Banana plants are hosts to a large number of Banana streak virus (BSV) species. However, diagnostic methods for BSV are inadequate because of the considerable genetic and serological diversity among BSV isolates and the presence of integrated BSV sequences in some banana cultivars which leads to false positives. In this study, a sequence-nonspecific, rolling-circle amplification (RCA) technique was developed and shown to overcome these limitations for the detection and subsequent characterization of BSV isolates infecting banana. This technique was shown to discriminate between integrated and episomal BSV DNA, specifically detecting the latter in several banana cultivars known to contain episomal or integrated sequences of Banana streak Mysore virus (BSMyV), Banana streak OL virus (BSOLV), and Banana streak GF virus (BSGFV). Using RCA, the presence of BSMyV and BSOLV was confirmed in Australia, while BSOLV, BSGFV, Banana streak Uganda I virus (BSUgIV), Banana streak Uganda L virus (BSUgLV), and Banana streak Uganda M virus (BSUgMV) were detected in Uganda. This is the first confirmed report of episomally-derived BSUglV, BSUgLV, and BSUgMV in Uganda. As well as its ability to detect BSV, RCA was shown to detect two other pararetroviruses, Sugarcane bacilliform virus in sugarcane and Cauliflower mosaic virus in turnip.
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