Transmission, localization, and infectivity of seedborne maize chlorotic mottle virus
Maize lethal necrosis is a destructive virus disease of maize caused by maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) in combination with a virus in the family Potyviridae. Emergence of MLN is typically associated with the introduction of MCMV or its vectors and understanding its spread through seed is critical for disease management. Previous studies suggest that although MCMV is detected on seed, the seed transmission rate of this virus is low. However, mechanisms influencing its transmission are poorly understood. Elucidating these mechanisms is crucial for informing strategies to prevent spread on contaminated seed. In this study, we evaluated the rate of MCMV seed transmission using seed collected from plants that were artificially inoculated with MCMV isolates from Hawaii and Kenya. Grow-out tests indicated that MCMV transmission through seed was rare, with a rate of 0.004% among the more than 85,000 seed evaluated, despite detection of MCMV at high levels in the seed lots. To understand factors that limit transmission from seed, MCMV distribution in seed tissues was examined using serology and immunolocalization. The virus was present at high levels in maternal tissues, the pericarp and pedicel, but absent from filial endosperm and embryo seed tissues. The ability to transmit MCMV from seed to uninfected plants was tested to evaluate virus viability. Transmission was negatively associated with both seed maturity and moisture content. Transmission of MCMV from infested seed dried to less than 15% moisture was not detected, suggesting proper handling could be important for minimizing spread of MCMV through seed.