Centrifugally purified samples of tobacco mosaic virus were subjected to intense sound vibrations of 9,000 cycles per second for 0, 2, 8, 16, 32, and 64 minutes. The viscosity and stream birefringence of the samples decreased with time of sonic treatment, but no chemical changes were found. Electron micrographs of the samples show that the particles are broken perpendicular to their long axis. In the untreated sample 62 per cent of the particles are about 280 mµ in length. As sonic treatment continued, the number of particles of this length decreased exponentially with time, the number half this length increased and then decreased, and the number of quarter length particles subsequently increased and then decreased. The biological activity of the samples, as determined by the half leaf lesion method, decreased exponentially with time of sonic treatment with a rate constant given by k = 0.13 min.–1. A correlation exists between the size distributions and biological activity and shows that only the particles of length 280 mµ are the biologically active units.

Tobacco mosaic virus particles can be made to aggregate end-to-end when the material is heated at its isoelectric point and reheated after being brought back to pH 7. Material which was not sonic treated and was made to aggregate showed reduced biological activity, but the activity was increased when the aggregated material was subjected to strong mechanical stirring. Material which was sonic treated for 32 minutes and which was made to aggregate showed the same biological activity as the material which was sonic treated but not aggregated.

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