Classical plant rhabdoviruses infect monocot and dicot plants, have unsegmented negative-sense RNA genomes and have been taxonomically classified in the genera Cytorhabdovirus and Nucleorhabdovirus. These viruses replicate in their hemipteran vectors and are transmitted in a circulative-propagative mode and virus infection persists for the life of the insect. Based on the discovery of numerous novel rhabdoviruses in arthropods during metagenomic studies and extensive phylogenetic analyses of the family Rhabdoviridae, it is hypothesized that plant-infecting rhabdoviruses are derived from insect viruses. Analyses of viral gene function in plants and insects is beginning to reveal conserved and unique biology for these plant viruses in the two diverse hosts. New tools for insect molecular biology and infectious clones for plant rhabdoviruses are increasing our understanding of the lifestyles of these viruses.
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