Physical Characteristics of the Leaves and Latex of Papaya Plants Infected with the Papaya meleira Virus

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Apr 15;17(4):574. doi: 10.3390/ijms17040574.


Sticky disease, which is caused by Papaya meleira virus (PMeV), is a significant papaya disease in Brazil and Mexico, where it has caused severe economic losses, and it seems to have spread to Central and South America. Studies assessing the pathogen-host interaction at the nano-histological level are needed to better understand the mechanisms that underlie natural resistance. In this study, the topography and mechanical properties of the leaf midribs and latex of healthy and PMeV-infected papaya plants were observed by atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Healthy plants displayed a smooth surface with practically no roughness of the leaf midribs and the latex and a higher adhesion force than infected plants. PMeV promotes changes in the leaf midribs and latex, making them more fragile and susceptible to breakage. These changes, which are associated with increased water uptake and internal pressure in laticifers, causes cell disruption that leads to spontaneous exudation of the latex and facilitates the spread of PMeV to other laticifers. These results provide new insights into the papaya-PMeV interaction that could be helpful for controlling papaya sticky disease.

Keywords: Papaya meleira virus; latex; laticifer; leaf midribs; papaya sticky disease; pathogen-host interaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carica / ultrastructure
  • Carica / virology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Latex / analysis*
  • Plant Diseases / virology*
  • Plant Leaves / ultrastructure
  • Plant Leaves / virology*
  • Plant Viruses / physiology*


  • Latex