Vascular invasion routes and systemic accumulation patterns of tobacco mosaic virus in Nicotiana benthamiana

Plant J. 2000 Aug;23(3):349-62. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2000.00788.x.


Plant viruses must enter the host vascular system in order to invade the young growing parts of the plant rapidly. Functional entry sites into the leaf vascular system for rapid systemic infection have not been determined for any plant/virus system. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) entry into minor, major and transport veins from non-vascular cells of Nicotiana benthamiana in source tissue and its exit from veins in sink tissue was studied using a modified virus expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP). Using a surgical procedure that isolated specific leaf and stem tissues from complicating vascular tissues, we determined that TMV could enter minor, major or transport veins directly from non-vascular cells to produce a systemic infection. TMV first accumulated in abaxial or external phloem-associated cells in major veins and petioles of the inoculated leaf and stems below the inoculated leaf. It also initially accumulated exclusively in internal or adaxial phloem-associated cells in stems above the inoculated leaf and petioles or major veins of sink leaves. This work shows the functional equivalence of vein classes in source leaves for entry of TMV, and the lack of equivalence of vein classes in sink leaves for exit of TMV. Thus, the specialization of major veins for transport rather than loading of photoassimilates in source tissue does not preclude virus entry. During transport, the virus initially accumulates in specific vascular-associated cells, indicating that virus accumulation in this tissue is highly regulated. These findings have important implications for studies on the identification of symplasmic domains and host macromolecule vascular transport.

MeSH terms

  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Tobacco / anatomy & histology
  • Tobacco / virology*
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus / isolation & purification
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus / pathogenicity*