virology - the development of the current virus myth

Steven Avery


One Hundred Years of Virology (1992)
Lustig and Levine

Mayer’s experiment of inoculating healthy plants with the juice extracted by grinding up leaves from diseased plants was the first experimental transmission of a viral disease in plants.

... Thus, TMV played a key role in the origins of virology. In a small series of steps from Mayer to Ivanovsky to Beijerinck, the concept of a filterable agent, too small to observe in the light microscope but able to cause disease by multiplying in living cells and tissue, was bom.

... The crystalization of TMV by Wendell Stanley in 1935 (16) brought the infectious agent into the world of the chemists, and the clear demonstrations of protein and RNA components of TMV by Bawden and Pirie in 1936 (1, 2) were followed by the first “visualization” of a virus by X-ray crystallography (4). The rods of constant diameter aligned in a hexagonal array contained RNA and protein, and this was the earliest view of a virus along with the first electron micrographs in Germany in 1939 (12). The genome of TMV was first used in 1956 to prove that infectious or genetic information could be stored in RNA molecules (8, 9), and the concept of self-assembly with an infectious virus was pioneered by using TMV RNA and coat protein (5).
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