The Plant Viruses: Polyhedral Virions and Bipartite RNA Genomes

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This fifth volume in the series The Plant Viruses, dealing with viruses with bipartite genomes, completes the coverage of viruses with isometric parti- cles and genomes consisting of single-stranded, positive-sense RNA: viruses that have tripartite and monopartite genomes of this kind were dealt with in Volumes 1 and 3, respectively. How close are the affinities among the viruses within the groupings distinguished in this way? All those with tripartite genomes are considered to be sufficiently closely related to be included in the family Bromoviridae, whereas the monopartite-genome viruses covered in Volume 3 clearly are a much more diverse collection. Affinities among the viruses with bipartite genomes are considered in Chapter 1 of this volume, along with the possible origins, advantages, and disadvantages of these ge- nomes. The conclusion reached from this assessment is that the bipartite- genome viruses fall into four categories, those within each category having closer affinities with viruses not included in this book than with viruses in the other categories. No evidence was found that possession of a bipartite genome gives a virus overwhelming advantages over viruses of other sorts. More probably, any advantages are largely balanced by disadvantages, and bipartite genomes may be best considered simply as an alternative design for the hereditary material of a virus.