Near the end of the past century a completely new type of transmissible plant pathogen was discovered, at first termed contagium vivum fluidum, then filterable virus, and finally just virus, the agent that caused tobacco mosaic disease: the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Soon many animal and other plant diseases were found to be due to similar agents. What differentiates the viruses from previously known infectious agents, besides their submicroscopic size, was their obligatory parasitic nature: They could only become replicated within the host’s cells. Viruses lack the ability to metabolize and thus to produce the energy and the materials needed for their replication. Their dependence on the host cell makes them a cell-biological phenomenon. That many viruses also interact with the host’s genome became realized later.
KeywordsCoat Protein Tobacco Mosaic Virus Plant Virus Tobacco Rattle Virus Alfalfa Mosaic Virus
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