In February of 2007, a virus disease survey on tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum) in greenhouses and open fields was conducted on the island of Mauritius at the request of the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit (AREU), sponsored by the European Union, and funded by the Programme Régional de Protection des Végétaux (PRPV). Yellowing symptoms on the lower and middle leaves of tomato plants and whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci) were observed in greenhouses in Pailles, located in the north region of the island. The interveinal chlorosis pattern of the discolored leaves was similar to symptoms described for Tomato chlorosis virus (ToCV; genus Crinivirus) detected on tomato in 2004 on Reunion Island (1), suggesting the possible involvement of the same virus. Six symptomatic tomato leaf samples were collected from separate plants in the Pailles greenhouses. Total RNA was extracted from these samples with the Qiagen (Courtaboeuf, France) RNeasy Plant Mini Kit. Reverse transcription-PCR was used for molecular diagnosis, independently using two sets of specific ToCV primers. The first set of primers, ToCV-172 and ToCV-610, was designed to amplify the highly conserved region of the heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) gene (2). The second set of primers was designed to amplify the coat protein (CP) gene (forward-CP-ToCV-4384: 5′-ATCCTCTGGTTAGACCGTTAG-3′ and reverse as in Segev et al. ). PCR products of the expected size (439 and 725 bp, respectively) were observed for the six samples from the greenhouse from Pailles. For each set of primers, two PCR products obtained from two different samples were cloned using the pGEM-T Easy Vector system (Promega, Madison, WI) and sequenced (Macrogen, Seoul, Korea). The two HSP70 sequences (GenBank-EMBL-DDBJ Accession Nos. AM884013 and AM884014) and the two CP sequences (FM206381 and FM206382) had 100% nucleotide identities (DNAMAN; Lynnon BioSoft, Quebec City, Canada). The highest nucleotide identities of the 439-bp fragment of HSP70 gene (NCBI, BLASTn) were 97% with ToCV isolates from France (DQ355214, DQ355215, and DQ355216), Florida (AY903448), Italy (AM231038 and AY048854), Mayotte Island (AM748818), Portugal (AF234029), and Reunion Island (AM748816). Similarly, the highest nucleotide identities (98%) were obtained with ToCV isolates from France (EU625350) and Spain (DQ136146), with the 725-bp fragments of CP gene. Interestingly, ToCV isolates from Mauritius and Reunion are as divergent as isolates from the rest of the world, which suggests the possibility of different introductions. In conclusion, observed symptoms and laboratory results based on two different regions of the genome confirm the presence of ToCV in symptomatic tomatoes on the island of Mauritius, for the first time to our knowledge. The visual survey carried out in June of 2008 confirmed the presence of typical interveinal chlorosis symptoms in other greenhouses, requiring further studies to assess the incidence of ToCV on tomato crops.
References: (1) H. Delatte et al. Plant Pathol. 55:289, 2006. (2) D. Louro et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 106:589, 2000. (3) L. Segev et al. Plant Dis. 88:1160, 2004.