Tomato apical stunt viroid (TASVd) was initially discovered in the Ivory Coast (2). It was later reported in Indonesia and more recently was found to be responsible for severe outbreaks in protected tomatoes in Israel (1) and Tunisia (3). Although not of quarantine status, TASVd is included in the EPPO alert list. In 2005, severe arrest of apical growth and leaf chlorosis were observed in tomato samples from northern Sénégal. Tomato yellow leaf curl virus was initially identified in some samples, but since the symptoms observed were reminiscent of those associated with viroid infection, samples were analyzed by return-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and molecular hybridization with a Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) probe. Positive results prompted a reanalysis by reverse transcription-PCR assays specific for PSTVd or TASVd. Positive amplification was only obtained with the TASVd-specific primers (Vir+ GGGGAAACCTGGAGGAA and Vir- GGGGATCCCTGAAGGAC), and the identity of the viroid confirmed by sequencing of the amplified fragment. The complete genome sequence obtained (GenBank Accession No. EF051631) shows 94 to 96% identity with other TASVd sequences in the databases, the highest homology being with the original Ivory Coast isolate (96%, 11 mutations, and 4 indels for the 362-nt genome). These results provide new information on the diversity of TASVd and of its detrimental potential for tomato crops and represent, to our knowledge, the first report of the presence of TASVd in Sénégal.
References: (1) Y. Antignus et al. Phytoparasitica 30:502, 2002. (2) C. R. Walter. Acad. Sci. 292:537, 1981. (3) J. Th. J. Verhoeven et al. Plant Disease 90:528, 2006.