Viroids belong to a very interesting class of molecules attracting researchers in phytopathology and molecular evolution. Here we review recent literature data concerning the genetics of Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) and the mechanisms related to its pathological effect on the host plants. PSTVd can be transmitted vertically through microspores and macrospores, but not with pollen from another infected plant. The 359 nucleotide-long genomic RNA of PSTVd is highly structured and its 3D-conformation is responsible for interaction with host cellular factors to mediate replication, transport between tissues during systemic infection and the severity of pathological symptoms. RNA replication is prone to errors and infected plants contain a population of mutated forms of the PSTVd genome. Interestingly, at 7 DAI, only 25 % of the newly synthesized RNAs were identical to the master copy, but this proportion increased to up to 70 % at 14 DAI and remained the same afterwards. PSTVd infection induces the immune response in host plants. There are PSTVd strains with a severe, a moderate or a mild pathological effect. Interestingly, viroid replication itself does not necessarily induce strong morphological or physiological symptoms. In the case of PSTVd, disease symptoms may occur due to RNA-interference, which decreases the expression levels of some important cellular regulatory factors, such as, for example, potato StTCP23 from the gibberellic acid pathway with a role in tuber morphogenesis or tomato FRIGIDA-like protein 3 with an early flowering phenotype. This association between the small segments of viroid genomic RNAs complementary to the untranslated regions of cellular mRNAs and disease symptoms provides a way for new resistant cultivars to be developed by genetic editing. To conclude, viroids provide a unique model to reveal the fundamental features of living systems, which appeared early in evolution and still remain undiscovered.
- 4 AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES
- 1.06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
- 1.06.KM GENETICS & HEREDITY
State classification of scientific and technological information
- 34 BIOLOGY