Any of various viruses that can cause plant disease (e.g., the tobacco mosaic virus). Plant viruses are economically important because many of them infect crop and ornamental plants. Numerous plant viruses are rodlike and can be extracted readily from plant tissue and crystallized. Most lack the fatty membrane found in many animal viruses, and all contain RNA. Plant viruses are transmitted in various ways, most importantly through insect bites, mainly by aphids and plant hoppers. Symptoms of virus infection include colour changes, dwarfing, and tissue distortion. The appearance of streaks of colour in certain tulips is caused by a virus. See also reovirus.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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