Immunoelectron microscopy is a powerful method to diagnose viral diseases and to study the distribution of the viral agent within plant cells and tissues. Nevertheless, current protocols for the immunological detection of viral diseases with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in plants take between 3 and 6 days and are therefore not suited for rapid diagnosis of virus diseases in plants. In this study, we describe a method that allows rapid cytohistochemical detection of tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) in leaves of tobacco plants.
With the help of microwave irradiation, sample preparation of the leaves was reduced to 90 min. After sample sectioning, virus particles were stained on the sections by immunogold labelling of the viral coat protein, which took 100 min. After investigation with the TEM, a clear visualization of TMV in tobacco cells was achieved altogether in about half a day. Comparison of gold particle density by image analysis revealed that samples prepared with the help of microwave irradiation yielded significantly higher gold particle density as samples prepared conventionally at room temperature.
This study clearly demonstrates that microwave-assisted plant sample preparation in combination with cytohistochemical localization of viral coat protein is well suited for rapid diagnosis of plant virus diseases in altogether about half a day by TEM.
Image: Detail from Zellnig G et al.: Microscopy (Tokyo) jmicro.dft022 (2013), Figure 1.