Theodor Otto Diener

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Theodor O. Diener

Theodor Otto Diener (born February 28, 1921)[1] is an American plant pathologist and was the first in the field to describe viroids.


Diener was born in 1921 in Zurich, Switzerland. He came to the United States in 1949. In 1971 he showed that the causative agent of Potato spindle tuber disease was the potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTV). PSTV is a 130,000 dalton viroid. Viroids are very little single-stranded circular RNA that have no coat protein, and which do not code for any protein.[2]

Diener received the prestigious National Medal of Science[3] in 1987 and the Wolf Prize in Agriculture in 1987.[4]


  1. [1]
  2. Diener TO (August 1971). "Potato spindle tuber "virus". IV. A replicating, low molecular weight RNA". Virology. 45 (2): 411–28. doi:10.1016/0042-6822(71)90342-4. PMID 5095900.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. National Medal of Science
  4. Wolf Prize in Agriculture