Helical Filaments Produced by a Mycoplasma-Like Organism Associated with Corn Stunt Disease

Science  05 May 1972:
Vol. 176, Issue 4034, pp. 521-523
DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4034.521


Mycoplasma-like bodies with helical filaments were seen by phase contrast microscopy in juice expressed from tissues of plants infected with corn stunt agent. Each filament is bounded by a "unit membrane" and no cell wall, sheath, envelope, or second membrane has yet been discerned by electron microscopy. The association of these filaments with development of disease, their occurrence in phloem cells as seen by both freeze-etching and thin-section electron microscopy, the diagnosis of infection based on their presence in plants without symptoms, and their absence in noninfected corn are consistent with the hypothesis that these unusual filaments are formed by the mycoplasma-like organism presumed to be the corn stunt agent.