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Why are plants not affected by animal viruses such as retroviruses? What prevents them from being infected?

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    $\begingroup$ I think your question is answered in my answer to: Can an infectious diseases come from a plant?. I also have an answer to another question in this area: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/90174/… $\endgroup$ – David Jan 21 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ I think you have the question backwards. Viruses tend to be pretty specific in what they attack: not only animals, but particular species of animals, and often only particular cell types. So why would you expect a virus to attack such different things as animals & plants? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 21 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ Plants do are not affected for the same reason that linux virus cannot infect windows computer: viruses work like a lock and key for specific infiltration methods in different hosts. $\endgroup$ – aliential Jan 22 at 21:33
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Virus are extremely host-dependent because they need to enter the host, move inside of it, use its replication mechanisms and codon usage. There are virus that cross the family boundry (ToMV for example) but crossing the kingdom boundry is less probable. For example, animal cells don't have a cell wall, which is a major change and requires a change in strategy for entrance to plant cells.

For retrovirus, they simply are virus that can integrate into the host genome. Several articles [1, 2, 3] describe retroelements that have been classified as retrovirus, retrovirus-like particles, and retroelements encoding coat proteins. This can lead to the conclusion that there are retrovirus in plants.

It is worth noticing that virus are not the major pathogens of plants (fungi are) and resistance to virus can be acquired even without understanding the mechanism. This leads to a lower level of interest, funds, and researchers in the area, which leads to a lower rate of discovery of new virus.

In conclusion, we have not found a virus that crosses the kingdom barrier but have families of virus that contain both plant and animal virus.

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