The RNA3-encoded p25 protein of beet necrotic yellow vein virus (BNYVV) is responsible for the production of rhizomania symptoms of sugar beet roots (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris). Here, it was found that the presence of the p25 protein is also associated with the resistance response in rub-inoculated leaves of sugar beet and wild beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima) plants. The resistance phenotype displayed a range of symptoms from no visible lesions to necrotic or greyish lesions at the inoculation site, and only very low levels of virus and viral RNA accumulated. The susceptible phenotype showed large, bright yellow lesions and developed high levels of virus accumulation. In roots after Polymyxa betae vector inoculation, however, no drastic differences in virus and viral RNA accumulation levels were found between plants with susceptible and resistant phenotypes, except at an early stage of infection. There was a genotype-specific interaction between BNYVV strains and two selected wild beet lines (MR1 and MR2) and sugar beet cultivars. Sequence analysis of natural BNYVV isolates and site-directed mutagenesis of the p25 protein revealed that 3 aa residues at positions 68, 70 and 179 are important in determining the resistance phenotype, and that host-genotype specificity is controlled by single amino acid changes at position 68. The mechanism of the occurrence of resistance-breaking BNYVV strains is discussed.
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