Molecular Plant Pathology – Pathogen Profiles

Tomato spotted wilt virus – positive steps towards negative success

Scott Adkins
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, US Horticultural Research Laboratory, 2001 S. Rock Rd., Ft. Pierce, FL 34945, USA

Taxonomy: Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is the type member of the plant-infecting Tospovirus genus in the family Bunyaviridae, a large group of predominantly vertebrate- and insect-infecting RNA viruses. 
Physical properties: Virions are 80–120-nm pleomorphic particles with surface projections composed of two viral glyco-proteins, G1 and G2 (Fig. 1). Virion composition is 5% nucleic acid, 70% protein, 5% carbohydrate and 20% lipid. The genome consists of three negative or ambisense ssRNAs designated S (2.9 kb), M (4.8 kb) and L (8.9 kb), with partially comple-mentary terminal sequences that allow the RNA to adopt a pseudocircular or panhandle conformation. Each genomic RNA is encapsidated by multiple copies of the viral nucleocapsid (N) protein to form ribonucleoprotein structures also known as nucleocapsids. The nucleocapsids are enclosed in a host-derived membrane bilayer along with an estimated 10–20 copies of the L protein, the putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. 
Hosts: Over 800 plant species, both dicots and monocots, in more than 80 plant families are susceptible to TSWV (Goldbach and Peters, 1994). The Solanaceae and Compositae families contain the largest numbers of susceptible plant species (Prins and Kormelink, 1998). TSWV also replicates in its insect vector, thrips (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) (Ullman et al., 1993; Wijkamp et al., 1993).