Soybean mosaic virus: a successful potyvirus with a wide distribution but restricted natural host range

M. R. Hajimorad, L. L. Domier, S. A. Tolin, S. A. Whitham, M. A. Saghai Maroof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Taxonomy: Soybean mosaic virus (SMV) is a species within the genus Potyvirus, family Potyviridae, which includes almost one-quarter of all known plant RNA viruses affecting agriculturally important plants. The Potyvirus genus is the largest of all genera of plant RNA viruses with 160 species. Particle: The filamentous particles of SMV, typical of potyviruses, are about 7500 Å long and 120 Å in diameter with a central hole of about 15 Å in diameter. Coat protein residues are arranged in helices of about 34 Å pitch having slightly less than nine subunits per turn. Genome: The SMV genome consists of a single-stranded, positive-sense, polyadenylated RNA of approximately 9.6 kb with a virus-encoded protein (VPg) linked at the 5′ terminus. The genomic RNA contains a single large open reading frame (ORF). The polypeptide produced from the large ORF is processed proteolytically by three viral-encoded proteinases to yield about 10 functional proteins. A small ORF, partially overlapping the P3 cistron, pipo, is encoded as a fusion protein in the N-terminus of P3 (P3N + PIPO). Biological properties: SMV's host range is restricted mostly to two plant species of a single genus: Glycine max (cultivated soybean) and G. soja (wild soybean). SMV is transmitted by aphids non-persistently and by seeds. The variability of SMV is recognized by reactions on cultivars with dominant resistance (R) genes. Recessive resistance genes are not known. Geographical distribution and economic importance: As a consequence of its seed transmissibility, SMV is present in all soybean-growing areas of the world. SMV infections can reduce significantly seed quantity and quality (e.g. mottled seed coats, reduced seed size and viability, and altered chemical composition). Control: The most effective means of managing losses from SMV are the planting of virus-free seeds and cultivars containing single or multiple R genes. Key attractions: The interactions of SMV with soybean genotypes containing different dominant R genes and an understanding of the functional role(s) of SMV-encoded proteins in virulence, transmission and pathogenicity have been investigated intensively. The SMV–soybean pathosystem has become an excellent model for the examination of the genetics and genomics of a uniquely complex gene-for-gene resistance model in a crop of worldwide importance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1579
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular Plant Pathology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Potyviridae
  • R genes
  • RNA viruses
  • avirulence/virulence proteins
  • host responses
  • signalling
  • virus–host interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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