Virus-Like Particles and a Spider Mite Intimately Associated with a New Disease of Barley

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Science  27 May 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4856, pp. 1188-1190
DOI: 10.1126/science.240.4856.1188


The malting barley—producing regions in Montana and Canada are threatened with a new virus-like barley disease that appears to be etiologically novel. Ultrathin sections of diseased tissue contained enveloped, filamentous virus-like particles that measured 64 nanometers by 126 to 4000 nanometers. These lengths are unique for plant viruses. Unexpectedly, the spider mite,Petrobia latens, which has never been reported to be a vector of a pathogen, was found to transmit the causal agent from diseased plants to healthy barley, while noninfective mites failed to do so unless they were allowed prior access to diseased tissue.