Special Issue "Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs"

A special issue of Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. José-Antonio Daròs
Website
Guest Editor
IBMCP (CSIC-Universitat Politècnica de València), 46022 Valencia, Spain
Interests: plant virus; viroids; RNA replication; RNA processing; viral vectors; antiviral strategies in plants; molecular farming

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Viroids are a very intriguing type of infectious agent of higher plants, since they are exclusively constituted by a relatively small molecule (246–401 nt) of circular RNA. Particularly, all evidence indicates that viroid RNAs do not code for proteins. However, despite this simplicity, when viroid RNAs enter appropriate host cells they manage to replicate, move through the plant, and avoid the host defensive response, causing, in many instances, diseases that are most relevant to important agricultural crops. From their discovery in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a great deal is known about viroid biology and biochemistry, and the pathology of viroid diseases. However, more needs to be discovered about aspects, such as viroid replication, traffic and interaction with the host plant; structure of viroid molecules and functional domains; viroid transmission, pathogenesis and disease control; viroid diagnosis and identification of new viroid species. All these topics and more are to be discussed at Viroid-2018, an international conference on viroids and viroid-like RNAs that will be held in Valencia (Spain) 5–7 July, 2018. I invite all researchers in the viroid community, and particularly the participants of Viroid-2018, to present their recent discoveries about all aspects of viroid and viroid-like RNA biology in this Special Issue.

Dr. José-Antonio Daròs
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Viroid
  • viroid-like RNA
  • viroid replication
  • viroid movement
  • viroid structure
  • viroid transmission
  • viroid pathogenesis
  • anti-viroid strategies
  • viroid diagnosis
  • new viroid species

Published Papers (25 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
High-Throughput Sequencing Analysis of Small RNAs Derived from Coleus Blumei Viroids
Viruses 2019, 11(7), 619; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11070619 - 05 Jul 2019
Abstract
Characterization of viroid-derived small RNAs (vd-sRNAs) is important to understand viroid–host interactions; however, vd-sRNAs belonging to the genus Coleviroid are yet to be identified and characterized. Herein, we used coleus plants singly infected with coleus blumei viroid (CbVd)-1, -5, or -6 and doubly [...] Read more.
Characterization of viroid-derived small RNAs (vd-sRNAs) is important to understand viroid–host interactions; however, vd-sRNAs belonging to the genus Coleviroid are yet to be identified and characterized. Herein, we used coleus plants singly infected with coleus blumei viroid (CbVd)-1, -5, or -6 and doubly infected with CbVd-1 and -5 to identify and analyze their vd-sRNAs. We found sense and antisense vd-sRNAs for CbVd-1, -5 and -6, and 22-nt vd-sRNAs were the most abundant; moreover, the 5′-terminal nucleotides (nts) of CbVd-1, -5, and -6 were biased toward U and C, and sRNAs derived from these three viroids were unevenly distributed along their genomes. We also noted that CbVd-5 and -6 share a fragment that forms the right half of the rod-like secondary structure of these viroids, which implied that they generated almost the same type of vd-sRNAs. This finding indicated that vd-sRNA biogenesis is mainly determined by the primary sequence of their substrates. More importantly, we found two complementary vd-sRNAs (22 nt) that were generated from the central conserved region (CCR) of these three viroids, suggesting an important role of CCR in vd-sRNA biogenesis. In conclusion, our results provide novel insight into the biogenesis of vd-sRNAs and the biological roles of CCR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
A Highly Sensitive Method to Detect Avocado Sunblotch Viroid for the Maintenance of Infection-Free Avocado Germplasm Collections
Viruses 2019, 11(6), 512; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11060512 - 04 Jun 2019
Abstract
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Subtropical Horticulture Research Station (SHRS) in Miami, FL holds a large germplasm collection of avocado (Persea americana). The recent threat of infection by laurel wilt has encouraged the creation of [...] Read more.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Subtropical Horticulture Research Station (SHRS) in Miami, FL holds a large germplasm collection of avocado (Persea americana). The recent threat of infection by laurel wilt has encouraged the creation of a backup collection at a disease-free site. Creating the backup collection is complicated by infection of some trees in the germplasm collection with avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd). Infected trees are frequently asymptomatic, necessitating the use of a molecular diagnostic assay. Although a reverse-transcription based assay already exists and has been used to assay all germplasm at the station, some trees showed inconsistent results. We have developed a more sensitive and specific assay involving pre-amplification of the entire viroid cDNA followed by detection using real-time PCR and a TaqMan assay. A second screening of all germplasm identified additional ASBVd -infected trees and allowed us to confidently remove these trees from the station. This method enables avocado germplasm curators to proceed with the creation of a viroid-free backup collection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Global Transcriptomic Analysis Reveals Insights into the Response of ‘Etrog’ Citron (Citrus medica L.) to Citrus Exocortis Viroid Infection
Viruses 2019, 11(5), 453; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11050453 - 17 May 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd) is the causal agent of citrus exocortis disease. We employed CEVd-infected ‘Etrog’ citron as a system to study the feedback regulation mechanism using transcriptome analysis in this study. Three months after CEVd infection, the transcriptome of fresh leaves was [...] Read more.
Citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd) is the causal agent of citrus exocortis disease. We employed CEVd-infected ‘Etrog’ citron as a system to study the feedback regulation mechanism using transcriptome analysis in this study. Three months after CEVd infection, the transcriptome of fresh leaves was analyzed, and 1530 differentially expressed genes were detected. The replication of CEVd in citron induced upregulation of genes encoding key proteins that were involved in the RNA silencing pathway such as Dicer-like 2, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 1, argonaute 2, argonaute 7, and silencing defective 3, as well as those genes encoding proteins that are related to basic defense responses. Many genes involved in secondary metabolite biosynthesis and chitinase activity were upregulated, whereas other genes related to cell wall and phytohormone signal transduction were downregulated. Moreover, genes encoding disease resistance proteins, pathogenicity-related proteins, and heat shock cognate 70 kDa proteins were also upregulated in response to CEVd infection. These results suggest that basic defense and RNA silencing mechanisms are activated by CEVd infection, and this information improves our understanding of the pathogenesis of viroids in woody plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Benzothiadiazole on the Metabolome of Tomato Plants Infected by Citrus Exocortis Viroid
Viruses 2019, 11(5), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11050437 - 14 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Benzothiadiazole (BTH) is a functional analogue of the phytohormone salycilic acid (SA) involved in the plant immune response. NahG tomato plants are unable to accumulate SA, which makes them hypersusceptible to several pathogens. Treatments with BTH increase the resistance to bacterial, fungal, viroid, [...] Read more.
Benzothiadiazole (BTH) is a functional analogue of the phytohormone salycilic acid (SA) involved in the plant immune response. NahG tomato plants are unable to accumulate SA, which makes them hypersusceptible to several pathogens. Treatments with BTH increase the resistance to bacterial, fungal, viroid, or viral infections. In this study, metabolic alterations in BTH-treated Money Maker and NahG tomato plants infected by citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd) were investigated by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Using multivariate data analysis, we have identified defence metabolites induced after viroid infection and BTH-treatment. Glycosylated phenolic compounds include gentisic and ferulic acid accumulated in CEVd-infected tomato plants, as well as phenylalanine, tyrosine, aspartate, glutamate, and asparagine. Besides, an increase of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamine, adenosine, and trigonelline, contributed to a clear discrimination between the metabolome of BTH-treated tomato leaves and their corresponding controls. Among them, GABA was the only metabolite significantly accumulated in both genotypes after the chemical treatment. In view of these results, the addition of GABA was performed on tomato plants infected by CEVd, and a reversion of the NahG hypersusceptibility to CEVd was observed, indicating that GABA could regulate the resistance to CEVd induced by BTH. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Parsimonious Scenario for the Emergence of Viroid-Like Replicons De Novo
Viruses 2019, 11(5), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11050425 - 09 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Viroids are small, non-coding, circular RNA molecules that infect plants. Different hypotheses for their evolutionary origin have been put forward, such as an early emergence in a precellular RNA World or several de novo independent evolutionary origins in plants. Here, we discuss the [...] Read more.
Viroids are small, non-coding, circular RNA molecules that infect plants. Different hypotheses for their evolutionary origin have been put forward, such as an early emergence in a precellular RNA World or several de novo independent evolutionary origins in plants. Here, we discuss the plausibility of de novo emergence of viroid-like replicons by giving theoretical support to the likelihood of different steps along a parsimonious evolutionary pathway. While Avsunviroidae-like structures are relatively easy to obtain through evolution of a population of random RNA sequences of fixed length, rod-like structures typical of Pospiviroidae are difficult to fix. Using different quantitative approaches, we evaluated the likelihood that RNA sequences fold into a rod-like structure and bear specific sequence motifs facilitating interactions with other molecules, e.g., RNA polymerases, RNases, and ligases. By means of numerical simulations, we show that circular RNA replicons analogous to Pospiviroidae emerge if evolution is seeded with minimal circular RNAs that grow through the gradual addition of nucleotides. Further, these rod-like replicons often maintain their structure if independent functional modules are acquired that impose selective constraints. The evolutionary scenario we propose here is consistent with the structural and biochemical properties of viroids described to date. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Revisiting the Role of Transcription Factors in Coordinating the Defense Response Against Citrus Bark Cracking Viroid Infection in Commercial Hop (Humulus Lupulus L.)
Viruses 2019, 11(5), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11050419 - 05 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Transcription factors (TFs) play a major role in controlling gene expression by intricately regulating diverse biological processes such as growth and development, the response to external stimuli and the activation of defense responses. The systematic identification and classification of TF genes are essential [...] Read more.
Transcription factors (TFs) play a major role in controlling gene expression by intricately regulating diverse biological processes such as growth and development, the response to external stimuli and the activation of defense responses. The systematic identification and classification of TF genes are essential to gain insight into their evolutionary history, biological roles, and regulatory networks. In this study, we performed a global mining and characterization of hop TFs and their involvement in Citrus bark cracking viroid CBCVd infection by employing a digital gene expression analysis. Our systematic analysis resulted in the identification of a total of 3,818 putative hop TFs that were classified into 99 families based on their conserved domains. A phylogenetic analysis classified the hop TFs into several subgroups based on a phylogenetic comparison with reference TF proteins from Arabidopsis thaliana providing glimpses of their evolutionary history. Members of the same subfamily and subgroup shared conserved motif compositions. The putative functions of the CBCVd-responsive hop TFs were predicted using their orthologous counterparts in A. thaliana. The analysis of the expression profiling of the CBCVd-responsive hop TFs revealed a massive differential modulation, and the expression of the selected TFs was validated using qRT-PCR. Together, the comprehensive integrated analysis in this study provides better insights into the TF regulatory networks associated with CBCVd infections in the hop, and also offers candidate TF genes for improving the resistance in hop against viroids. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Reassessment of Viroid RNA Cytosine Methylation Status at the Single Nucleotide Level
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040357 - 18 Apr 2019
Abstract
Composed of a few hundreds of nucleotides, viroids are infectious, circular, non-protein coding RNAs able to usurp plant cellular enzymes and molecular machineries to replicate and move in their hosts. Several secondary and tertiary RNA structural motifs have been implicated in the viroid [...] Read more.
Composed of a few hundreds of nucleotides, viroids are infectious, circular, non-protein coding RNAs able to usurp plant cellular enzymes and molecular machineries to replicate and move in their hosts. Several secondary and tertiary RNA structural motifs have been implicated in the viroid infectious cycle, but whether modified nucleotides, such as 5C-methylcytosine (m5C), also play a role has not been deeply investigated so far. Here, the possible existence of m5C in both RNA polarity strands of potato spindle tuber viroid and avocado sunblotch viroid -which are representative members of the nucleus- and chloroplast-replicating viroids, respectively- has been assessed at single nucleotide level. We show that a standard bisulfite protocol efficiently used for identifying m5C in cellular RNAs may generate false positive results in the case of the highly structured viroid RNAs. Applying a bisulfite conversion protocol specifically adapted to RNAs with high secondary structure, no m5C was identified in both polarity strands of both viroids, indicating that this specific nucleotide modification does not likely play a role in viroid biology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessCommunication
Surveys in the Chrysanthemum Production Areas of Brazil and Colombia Reveal That Weeds Are Potential Reservoirs of Chrysanthemum Stunt Viroid
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 355; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040355 - 17 Apr 2019
Abstract
The stunting disease, incited by chrysanthemum stunt viroid (CSVd), has become a serious problem in chrysanthemum production areas worldwide. Here we identified 46 weed species from chrysanthemum fields in two producing regions of the State of São Paulo, Brazil. The mechanical inoculation of [...] Read more.
The stunting disease, incited by chrysanthemum stunt viroid (CSVd), has become a serious problem in chrysanthemum production areas worldwide. Here we identified 46 weed species from chrysanthemum fields in two producing regions of the State of São Paulo, Brazil. The mechanical inoculation of these weeds with a Brazilian CSVd isolate revealed that this viroid was able to infect 17 of these species, in addition to chrysanthemum, tomato and potato. Plants of Oxalis latifolia and chrysanthemum naturally infected with CSVd were found in chrysanthemum fields in Colombia, which is the first CSVd report in that country. Therefore, weeds have the potential to act as reservoirs of CSVd in the field. These results are the first reports of experimental CSVd infection in the following species: Amaranthus viridis, Cardamine bonariensis, Chamaesyce hirta, Conyza bonariensis, Digitaria sanguinalis, Gomphrena globosa, Helianthus annuus, Lupinus polyphyllus, Mirabilis jalapa, Oxalis latifolia, Portulaca oleracea and Catharanthus roseus. The phylogenetic analyses of the CSVd variants identified herein showed three groups with Brazilian CSVd variants distributed in them all, which suggests that Brazilian CSVd isolates may have different origins through successive introductions of infected germplasm of chrysanthemum in Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Suppression of RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase 6 Favors the Accumulation of Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid in Nicotiana Benthamiana
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040345 - 14 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
To date, two plant genes encoding RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRs) that play major roles in the defense against RNA viruses have been identified: (i) RdR1, which is responsible for the viral small RNAs (vsRNAs) found in virus-infected plants, and, (ii) RdR6, which acts [...] Read more.
To date, two plant genes encoding RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRs) that play major roles in the defense against RNA viruses have been identified: (i) RdR1, which is responsible for the viral small RNAs (vsRNAs) found in virus-infected plants, and, (ii) RdR6, which acts as a surrogate in the absence of RdR1. In this study, the role of RdR6 in the defense against viroid infection was examined by knock-down of RdR6 followed by potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) infection. The suppression of RdR6 expression increased the plant’s growth, as was illustrated by the plant’s increased height. PSTVd infection of RdR6 compromised plants resulted in an approximately three-fold increase in the accumulation of viroid RNA as compared to that seen in control plants. Additionally, RNA gel blot assay revealed an increase in the number of viroids derived small RNAs in RdR6 suppressed plants as compared to control plants. These data provide a direct correlation between RdR6 and viroid accumulation and indicate the role of RDR6 in the plant’s susceptibility to viroid infection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
RNAi-Mediated Down-Regulation of Dicer-Like 2 and 4 Changes the Response of ‘Moneymaker’ Tomato to Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid Infection from Tolerance to Lethal Systemic Necrosis, Accompanied by Up-Regulation of miR398, 398a-3p and Production of Excessive Amount of Reactive Oxygen Species
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 344; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040344 - 13 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
To examine the role of RNA silencing in plant defenses against viroids, a Dicer-like 2 and 4 (DCL2&4)–double knockdown transgenic tomato plant line, 72E, was created. The expression of endogenous SlDCL2s and SlDCL4 in line 72E decreased to about a half that [...] Read more.
To examine the role of RNA silencing in plant defenses against viroids, a Dicer-like 2 and 4 (DCL2&4)–double knockdown transgenic tomato plant line, 72E, was created. The expression of endogenous SlDCL2s and SlDCL4 in line 72E decreased to about a half that of the empty cassette line, EC. When challenged with potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd), line 72E showed significantly higher levels of PSTVd accumulation early in the course of the infection and lethal systemic necrosis late in the infection. The size distribution of PSTVd-derived small RNAs was significantly different with the number of RNAs of 21 and 22 nucleotides (nt) in line 72E, at approximately 66.7% and 5% of those in line EC, respectively. Conversely, the numbers of 24 nt species increased by 1100%. Furthermore, expression of the stress-responsive microRNA species miR398 and miR398a-3p increased 770% and 868% in the PSTVd-infected line 72E compared with the PSTVd-infected EC. At the same time, the expression of cytosolic and chloroplast-localized Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase 1 and 2 (SOD1 and SOD2) and the copper chaperon for SOD (CCS1) mRNAs, potential targets of miR398 or 398a-3p, decreased significantly in the PSTVd-infected line 72E leaves, showing necrosis. In concert with miR398 and 398a-3p, SODs control the detoxification of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated in cells. Since high levels of ROS production were observed in PSTVd-infected line 72E plants, it is likely that the lack of full dicer-likes (DCL) activity in these plants made them unable to control excessive ROS production after PSTVd infection, as disruption in the ability of miR398 and miR398a-3p to regulate SODs resulted in the development of lethal systemic necrosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Viroid-infected Tomato and Capsicum Seed Shipments to Australia
Viruses 2019, 11(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11020098 - 24 Jan 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Pospiviroid species are transmitted through capsicum and tomato seeds. Trade in these seeds represents a route for the viroids to invade new regions, but the magnitude of this hazard has not been adequately investigated. Since 2012, tomato seed lots sent to Australia have [...] Read more.
Pospiviroid species are transmitted through capsicum and tomato seeds. Trade in these seeds represents a route for the viroids to invade new regions, but the magnitude of this hazard has not been adequately investigated. Since 2012, tomato seed lots sent to Australia have been tested for pospiviroids before they are released from border quarantine, and capsicum seed lots have been similarly tested in quarantine since 2013. Altogether, more than 2000 seed lots have been tested. Pospiviroids were detected in more than 10% of the seed lots in the first years of mandatory testing, but the proportion of lots that were infected declined in subsequent years to less than 5%. Six pospiviroid species were detected: Citrus exocortis viroid, Columnea latent viroid, Pepper chat fruit viroid, Potato spindle tuber viroid, Tomato chlorotic dwarf viroid and Tomato apical stunt viroid. They were detected in seed lots exported from 18 countries from every production region. In many seed lots, the detectable fraction (prevalence) of infected seeds was estimated to be very small, as low as 6 × 10−5 (~1 in 16,000; CI 5 × 10−6 to 2.5 × 10−4) for some lots. These findings raise questions about seed production practices, and the study indicates the geographic distributions of these pathogens are uncertain, and there is a continuing threat of invasion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Innate Immunity Activation and RNAi Interplay in Citrus Exocortis Viroid—Tomato Pathosystem
Viruses 2018, 10(11), 587; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10110587 - 26 Oct 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Although viroids are the smallest and simplest plant pathogens known, the molecular mechanisms underlying their pathogenesis remain unclear. To unravel these mechanisms, a dual approach was implemented consisting of in silico identification of potential tomato silencing targets of pospiviroids, and the experimental validation [...] Read more.
Although viroids are the smallest and simplest plant pathogens known, the molecular mechanisms underlying their pathogenesis remain unclear. To unravel these mechanisms, a dual approach was implemented consisting of in silico identification of potential tomato silencing targets of pospiviroids, and the experimental validation of these targets through the sequencing of small RNAs and RNA ends extracted from tomatoes infected with a severe isolate of Citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd). The generated RNA ends were also used to monitor the differentially-expressed genes. These analyses showed that when CEVd symptoms are well established: (i) CEVd are degraded by at least three Dicer-like (DCL) proteins and possibly by RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), (ii) five different mRNAs are partially degraded through post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), including argonaute 2a, which is further degraded in phasiRNAs, (iii) Dicer-like 2b and 2d are both upregulated and degraded in phasiRNAs, and (iv) CEVd infection induced a significant shift in gene expression allowing to explain the usual symptoms of pospiviroids on tomato and to demonstrate the constant activation of host innate immunity and systemic acquired resistance (SAR) by these pathogenic RNAs. Finally, based on in silico analysis, potential immunity receptor candidates of viroid-derived RNAs are suggested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Transcriptomic Analysis Reveals Insights into the Response to Citrus bark cracking viroid (CBCVd) in Hop (Humulus lupulus L.)
Viruses 2018, 10(10), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10100570 - 18 Oct 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
Viroids are smallest known pathogen that consist of non-capsidated, single-stranded non-coding RNA replicons and they exploits host factors for their replication and propagation. The severe stunting disease caused by Citrus bark cracking viroid (CBCVd) is a serious threat, which spreads rapidly within hop [...] Read more.
Viroids are smallest known pathogen that consist of non-capsidated, single-stranded non-coding RNA replicons and they exploits host factors for their replication and propagation. The severe stunting disease caused by Citrus bark cracking viroid (CBCVd) is a serious threat, which spreads rapidly within hop gardens. In this study, we employed comprehensive transcriptome analyses to dissect host-viroid interactions and identify gene expression changes that are associated with disease development in hop. Our analysis revealed that CBCVd-infection resulted in the massive modulation of activity of over 2000 genes. Expression of genes associated with plant immune responses (protein kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase), hypersensitive responses, phytohormone signaling pathways, photosynthesis, pigment metabolism, protein metabolism, sugar metabolism, and modification, and others were altered, which could be attributed to systemic symptom development upon CBCVd-infection in hop. In addition, genes encoding RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, pathogenesis-related protein, chitinase, as well as those related to basal defense responses were up-regulated. The expression levels of several genes identified from RNA sequencing analysis were confirmed by qRT-PCR. Our systematic comprehensive CBCVd-responsive transcriptome analysis provides a better understanding and insights into complex viroid-hop plant interaction. This information will assist further in the development of future measures for the prevention of CBCVd spread in hop fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Pospiviroid Infection of Tomato Regulates the Expression of Genes Involved in Flower and Fruit Development
Viruses 2018, 10(10), 516; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10100516 - 21 Sep 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Viroids are unencapsidated, single-stranded, covalently-closed circular, highly structured, noncoding RNAs of 239–401 nucleotides that cause disease in several economically important crop plants. In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum cv. Rutgers), symptoms of pospiviroid infection include stunting, reduced vigor, flower abortion, and reduced size and [...] Read more.
Viroids are unencapsidated, single-stranded, covalently-closed circular, highly structured, noncoding RNAs of 239–401 nucleotides that cause disease in several economically important crop plants. In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum cv. Rutgers), symptoms of pospiviroid infection include stunting, reduced vigor, flower abortion, and reduced size and number of fruits, resulting in significant crop losses. Dramatic alterations in plant development triggered by viroid infection are the result of differential gene expression; in our study, we focused on the effect of tomato planta macho viroid (TPMVd) and Mexican papita viroid (MPVd) infection on gene networks associated with the regulation of flower and fruit development. The expression of several of the genes were previously reported to be affected by viroid infection, but two genes not previously studied were included. Changes in gene expression of SlBIGPETAL1 (bHLH transcription factor) and SlOVA6 (proline-like tRNA synthetase) are involved in petal morphology and fertility, respectively. Expression of SlOVA6 was down-regulated in flowers of TPMVd- and MPVd-infected plants, while expression of SlBIGPETAL1 was up-regulated in flowers. Up-regulation of SlBIGPETAL1 and down-regulation of SlOVA6 were positively correlated with symptoms such as reduced petal size and flower abortion. Expression analysis of additional tomato genes and a prediction of a global network association of genes involved in flower and fruit development and impacted by viroid infection may further elucidate the pathways underlying viroid pathogenicity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle
Time-Course Microarray Analysis Reveals Differences between Transcriptional Changes in Tomato Leaves Triggered by Mild and Severe Variants of Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid
Viruses 2018, 10(5), 257; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10050257 - 15 May 2018
Cited by 9
Abstract
Viroids are small non-capsidated non-coding RNA replicons that utilize host factors for efficient propagation and spread through the entire plant. They can incite specific disease symptoms in susceptible plants. To better understand viroid-plant interactions, we employed microarray analysis to observe the changes of [...] Read more.
Viroids are small non-capsidated non-coding RNA replicons that utilize host factors for efficient propagation and spread through the entire plant. They can incite specific disease symptoms in susceptible plants. To better understand viroid-plant interactions, we employed microarray analysis to observe the changes of gene expression in “Rutgers” tomato leaves in response to the mild (M) and severe (S23) variants of potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd). The changes were analyzed over a time course of viroid infection development: (i) the pre-symptomatic stage; (ii) early symptoms; (iii) full spectrum of symptoms and (iv) the so-called ‘recovery’ stage, when stem regrowth was observed in severely affected plants. Gene expression profiles differed depending on stage of infection and variant. In S23-infected plants, the expression of over 3000 genes was affected, while M-infected plants showed 3-fold fewer differentially expressed genes, only 20% of which were specific to the M variant. The differentially expressed genes included many genes related to stress; defense; hormone metabolism and signaling; photosynthesis and chloroplasts; cell wall; RNA regulation, processing and binding; protein metabolism and modification and others. The expression levels of several genes were confirmed by nCounter analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Avocado Sunblotch Viroid: An Invisible Foe of Avocado
Viruses 2019, 11(6), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11060491 - 29 May 2019
Abstract
This review collects information about the history of avocado and the economically important disease, avocado sunblotch, caused by the avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd). Sunblotch symptoms are variable, but the most common in fruits are irregular sunken areas of white, yellow, or reddish color. [...] Read more.
This review collects information about the history of avocado and the economically important disease, avocado sunblotch, caused by the avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd). Sunblotch symptoms are variable, but the most common in fruits are irregular sunken areas of white, yellow, or reddish color. On severely affected fruits, the sunken areas may become necrotic. ASBVd (type species Avocado sunblotch viroid, family Avsunviroidae) replicates and accumulates in the chloroplast, and it is the smallest plant pathogen. This pathogen is a circular single-stranded RNA of 246–251 nucleotides. ASBVd has a restricted host range and only few plant species of the family Lauraceae have been confirmed experimentally as additional hosts. The most reliable method to detect ASBVd in the field is to identify symptomatic fruits, complemented in the laboratory with reliable and sensitive molecular techniques to identify infected but asymptomatic trees. This pathogen is widely distributed in most avocado-producing areas and causes significant reductions in yield and fruit quality. Infected asymptomatic trees play an important role in the epidemiology of this disease, and avocado nurseries need to be certified to ensure they provide pathogen-free avocado material. Although there is no cure for infected trees, sanitation practices may have a significant impact on avoiding the spread of this pathogen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessReview
Next-Generation Sequencing and CRISPR/Cas13 Editing in Viroid Research and Molecular Diagnostics
Viruses 2019, 11(2), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11020120 - 29 Jan 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Viroid discovery as well as the economic significance of viroids and biological properties are presented. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies combined with informatics have been applied to viroid research and diagnostics for almost a decade. NGS provides highly efficient, rapid, low-cost high-throughput sequencing of [...] Read more.
Viroid discovery as well as the economic significance of viroids and biological properties are presented. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies combined with informatics have been applied to viroid research and diagnostics for almost a decade. NGS provides highly efficient, rapid, low-cost high-throughput sequencing of viroid genomes and of the 21–24 nt vd-sRNAs generated by the RNA silencing defense of the host. NGS has been utilized in various viroid studies which are presented. The discovery during the last few years that prokaryotes have heritable adaptive immunity mediated through clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated Cas proteins, have led to transformative advances in molecular biology, notably genome engineering and most recently molecular diagnostics. The potential application of the CRISPR-Cas13a system for engineering viroid interference in plants is suggested by targeting specific motifs of three economically important viroids. The CRISPR-Cas13 system has been utilized recently for the accurate detection of human RNA viruses by visual read out in 90 min or less and by paper-based assay. Multitarget RNA tests by this technology have a good potential for application as a rapid and accurate diagnostic assay for known viroids. The CRISPR/Cas system will work only for known viroids in contrast to NGS, but it should be much faster. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessReview
Insight into the Contribution and Disruption of Host Processes during HDV Replication
Viruses 2019, 11(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11010021 - 31 Dec 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is unique among animal viruses. HDV is a satellite virus of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), however it shares no sequence similarity with its helper virus and replicates independently in infected cells. HDV is the smallest human pathogenic RNA [...] Read more.
Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is unique among animal viruses. HDV is a satellite virus of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), however it shares no sequence similarity with its helper virus and replicates independently in infected cells. HDV is the smallest human pathogenic RNA virus and shares numerous characteristics with viroids. Like viroids, HDV has a circular RNA genome which adopts a rod-like secondary structure, possesses ribozyme domains, replicates in the nucleus of infected cells by redirecting host DNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RNAP), and relies heavily on host proteins for its replication due to its small size and limited protein coding capacity. These similarities suggest an evolutionary relationship between HDV and viroids, and information on HDV could allow a better understanding of viroids and might globally help understanding the pathogenesis and molecular biology of these subviral RNAs. In this review, we discuss the host involvement in HDV replication and its implication for HDV pathogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessReview
Chrysanthemum Stunt Viroid Resistance in Chrysanthemum
Viruses 2018, 10(12), 719; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10120719 - 17 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Chrysanthemum stunt viroid (CSVd) is one of the most severe threats in Chrysanthemum morifolium production. Over the last decade, several studies have reported the natural occurrence of CSVd resistance in chrysanthemum germplasms. Such CSVd-resistant germplasms are desirable for the stable production of chrysanthemum [...] Read more.
Chrysanthemum stunt viroid (CSVd) is one of the most severe threats in Chrysanthemum morifolium production. Over the last decade, several studies have reported the natural occurrence of CSVd resistance in chrysanthemum germplasms. Such CSVd-resistant germplasms are desirable for the stable production of chrysanthemum plants. Current surveys include finding new resistant chrysanthemum cultivars, breeding, and revealing resistant mechanisms. We review the progress, from discovery to current status, of CSVd-resistance studies, while introducing information on the improvement of associated inoculation and diagnostic techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
Open AccessReview
Vertical and Horizontal Transmission of Pospiviroids
Viruses 2018, 10(12), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10120706 - 12 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Viroids are highly structured, single-stranded, non-protein-coding circular RNA pathogens. Some viroids are vertically transmitted through both viroid-infected ovule and pollen. For example, potato spindle tuber viroid, a species that belongs to Pospiviroidae family, is delivered to the embryo through the ovule or pollen [...] Read more.
Viroids are highly structured, single-stranded, non-protein-coding circular RNA pathogens. Some viroids are vertically transmitted through both viroid-infected ovule and pollen. For example, potato spindle tuber viroid, a species that belongs to Pospiviroidae family, is delivered to the embryo through the ovule or pollen during the development of reproductive tissues before embryogenesis. In addition, some of Pospiviroidae are also horizontally transmitted by pollen. Tomato planta macho viroid in pollen infects to the ovary from pollen tube during pollen tube elongation and eventually causes systemic infection, resulting in the establishment of horizontal transmission. Furthermore, fertilization is not required to accomplish the horizontal transmission. In this review, we will overview the recent research progress in vertical and horizontal transmission of viroids, mainly by focusing on histopathological studies, and also discuss the impact of seed transmission on viroid dissemination and seed health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessReview
Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid RNA-Templated Transcription: Factors and Regulation
Viruses 2018, 10(9), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10090503 - 17 Sep 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Viroids are circular noncoding RNAs that infect plants. Without encoding any protein, these noncoding RNAs contain the necessary genetic information for propagation in hosts. Nuclear-replicating viroids employ DNA-dependent RNA polymerase II (Pol II) for replication, a process that makes a DNA-dependent enzyme recognize [...] Read more.
Viroids are circular noncoding RNAs that infect plants. Without encoding any protein, these noncoding RNAs contain the necessary genetic information for propagation in hosts. Nuclear-replicating viroids employ DNA-dependent RNA polymerase II (Pol II) for replication, a process that makes a DNA-dependent enzyme recognize RNA templates. Recently, a splicing variant of transcription factor IIIA (TFIIIA-7ZF) was identified as essential for Pol II to replicate potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd). The expression of TFIIIA-7ZF, particularly the splicing event, is regulated by a ribosomal protein (RPL5). PSTVd modulates its expression through a direct interaction with RPL5 resulting in optimized expression of TFIIIA-7ZF. This review summarizes the recent discoveries of host factors and regulatory mechanisms underlying PSTVd-templated transcription processes and raises new questions that may help future exploration in this direction. In addition, it briefly compares the machinery and the regulatory mechanism for PSTVd with the replication/transcription system of human hepatitis delta virus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessProtocol
Combining a Simple Method for DNA/RNA/Protein Co-Purification and Arabidopsis Protoplast Assay to Facilitate Viroid Research
Viruses 2019, 11(4), 324; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11040324 - 03 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Plant–viroid interactions represent a valuable model for delineating structure–function relationships of noncoding RNAs. For various functional studies, it is desirable to minimize sample variations by using DNA, RNA, and proteins co-purified from the same samples. Currently, most of the co-purification protocols rely on [...] Read more.
Plant–viroid interactions represent a valuable model for delineating structure–function relationships of noncoding RNAs. For various functional studies, it is desirable to minimize sample variations by using DNA, RNA, and proteins co-purified from the same samples. Currently, most of the co-purification protocols rely on TRI Reagent (Trizol as a common representative) and require protein precipitation and dissolving steps, which render difficulties in experimental handling and high-throughput analyses. Here, we established a simple and robust method to minimize the precipitation steps and yield ready-to-use RNA and protein in solutions. This method can be applied to samples in small quantities, such as protoplasts. Given the ease and the robustness of this new method, it will have broad applications in virology and other disciplines in molecular biology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessHypothesis
RNA Back and Forth: Looking through Ribozyme and Viroid Motifs
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 283; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030283 - 21 Mar 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Current cellular facts allow us to follow the link from chemical to biochemical metabolites, from the ancient to the modern world. In this context, the “RNA world” hypothesis proposes that early in the evolution of life, the ribozyme was responsible for the storage [...] Read more.
Current cellular facts allow us to follow the link from chemical to biochemical metabolites, from the ancient to the modern world. In this context, the “RNA world” hypothesis proposes that early in the evolution of life, the ribozyme was responsible for the storage and transfer of genetic information and for the catalysis of biochemical reactions. Accordingly, the hammerhead ribozyme (HHR) and the hairpin ribozyme belong to a family of endonucleolytic RNAs performing self-cleavage that might occur during replication. Furthermore, regarding the widespread occurrence of HHRs in several genomes of modern organisms (from mammals to small parasites and elsewhere), these small ribozymes have been regarded as living fossils of a primitive RNA world. They fold into 3D structures that generally require long-range intramolecular interactions to adopt the catalytically active conformation under specific physicochemical conditions. By studying viroids as plausible remains of ancient RNA, we recently demonstrated that they replicate in non-specific hosts, emphasizing their adaptability to different environments, which enhanced their survival probability over the ages. All these results exemplify ubiquitous features of life. Those are the structural and functional versatility of small RNAs, ribozymes, and viroids, as well as their diversity and adaptability to various extreme conditions. All these traits must have originated in early life to generate novel RNA populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessCommentary
Viroids as Companions of a Professional Career
Viruses 2019, 11(3), 245; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030245 - 12 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Since the early 1970s when “virus-like” agents were considered as the cause of two diseases (potato spindle tuber and citrus exocortis), their study and further characterization have been linked to the development and use of molecular biology tools. Sucrose density gradient centrifugation and [...] Read more.
Since the early 1970s when “virus-like” agents were considered as the cause of two diseases (potato spindle tuber and citrus exocortis), their study and further characterization have been linked to the development and use of molecular biology tools. Sucrose density gradient centrifugation and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) played a critical role in the pioneering studies of PSTVd and citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd). This was later modified by using other PAGEs (sequential PAGE, return PAGE, two-dimensional PAGE), and/or different staining methods (ethidium bromide, silver nitrate, etc.). Since then, disease-causing agents suspected to be viroids were usually subjected to a number of tests to define their: (i) Molecular nature (RNA or DNA; single stranded or double stranded; circular or linear RNA); (ii) molecular weight; (iii) secondary and tertiary structure. Further biological assays are also essential to establish the relationship of a viroid with plant disease and to fulfill Koch’s postulates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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Open AccessCommentary
Of Viroids and Prions
Viruses 2018, 10(12), 663; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10120663 - 23 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
In 2017, Hadidi et al. edited a voluminous monograph entitled “Viroids and Satellites”, in which each known viroid and viroid-like satellite species was described in detail from many perspectives by more than 100 experts from 24 countries. In its 700+ pages, the book [...] Read more.
In 2017, Hadidi et al. edited a voluminous monograph entitled “Viroids and Satellites”, in which each known viroid and viroid-like satellite species was described in detail from many perspectives by more than 100 experts from 24 countries. In its 700+ pages, the book is a much needed detailed and reliable compendium of a subject, which, undoubtedly, is still little known by many potential readers. Because most users of the book may be expected to be practical plant pathologists, it appears essential that the book contain, in addition to the detailed viroid and satellite descriptions, one chapter, in which the basic molecular biology of viroids and satellites is described. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroid-2018: International Conference on Viroids and Viroid-Like RNAs)
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