Resting spores (cystosori) of Polymyxa graminis, selected from roots of barley plants infected with barley yellow mosaic virus (BaYMV), were used to start mono-fungal sand cultures. Out of 20 attempts using over 800 cystosori, P. graminis became established in 12, and in two of these BaYMV symptoms also occurred.
BaYMV was detected by ELISA in extracts of dried roots heavily infected with cystosori and in zoospores of P. graminis. Calculations suggested that, on average, each zoospore carried less than 100 virus particles.
In two virus acquisition experiments, non-viruliferous isolates of P. graminis failed to acquire BaYMV from roots of mechanically-inoculated plants. In two further experiments, non-viruliferous isolates were grown on rooted tillers produced from healthy plants and those infected with BaYMV by either vector or mechanical inoculation. Zoospores and cystosori of P. graminis subsequently transmitted the virus, but only from plants where it had been introduced by the vector. Repeated mechanical transmission appeared to have selected a strain of virus that could not be acquired and/or transmitted by the vector.
The results provide convincing evidence that P. graminis is a vector of BaYMV but suggest that, in natural populations, only a small proportion of spores may be viruliferous.