Introduction. The closteroviruses and capilloviruses are diverse groups of structurally similar, flexuous, filamentous plant viruses. However, because of a lack of information of other than a morphological nature the taxonomy of these virus groups and of other similar elongated viruses has been somewhat confused, and to some extent is likely to remain so for some time.

The closterovirus group is characterized by extremely flexuous particles ranging in modal length from 600 to 2000 nm, depending on the virus; the clostero- prefix is derived from the Greek , meaning thread or spindle. Closterovirus particles are uniformly about 12 nm in width and have an easily recognized ‘open’ structure (closterovirus structure and morphology have been reviewed by Tollin & Wilson, 1988). The unipartite ssRNA genome is wound much less tightly in closterovirus particles than in other filamentous plant viruses, with a variability in helical pitch for individual virions suggesting relatively weak interactions between the particle subunits, possibly explaining their extreme flexibility.


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