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Plant Pathology and Microbiology

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Molecular Plant Pathology




Taxonomy. Soybean mosaic virus (SMV) is a species within the genus Potyvirus, family Potyviridae that includes almost a 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 7,500 Å long and 120 Å in diameter with a central hole of about 15 Å in diameter. Coat protein residues are arranged in helice of about 34 Å pitch having slightly less than 9 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. 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 planting 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 understanding functional role(s) of SMV-encoded proteins in virulence, transmission and pathogenicity have been intensively investigated. The SMV-soybean pathosystem has become an excellent model for examining the genetics and genomics of uniquely complex gene-for-gene resistance model in a crop of worldwide importance.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Hajimorad, M.R., Domier, L.L., Tolin, S.A., Whitham, S.A. and Saghai Maroof, M.A. (2017), Soybean mosaic virus: A successful potyvirus with a wide distribution but restricted natural host range. Molecular Plant Pathology. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12644.


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