Pigweeds (genus Amaranthus) are problematic weeds in crop production throughout the world and are responsible for significant yield losses in many crops (2). Members of this genus can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds per plant and are also capable of supporting populations of important crop pathogens including viruses, nematodes, fungi, and oomycetes. Thirty-one pigweed samples (tentatively identified as Amaranthus lividus L. based on leaf notch and growth habit) were collected in November and December of 2009 from a watermelon field near Immokalee, FL, previously found to contain watermelon plants infected with three whitefly-transmitted viruses: Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV), Cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV), and Squash vein yellowing virus (SqVYV). Although no obvious virus symptoms were observed on any of the pigweed plants, whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci), a known vector of CYSDV, CuLCrV, and SqVYV, were observed on leaves. Consequently, replica tissue blots were made from all pigweed samples and tested independently by tissue blot nucleic acid hybridization assay for CYSDV, CuLCrV, or SqVYV (3). Tissue blots indicated CYSDV infection in six pigweed samples. Neither CuLCrV nor SqVYV was detected. Three of the tissue blot-positive pigweed samples were further tested by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR amplification from total RNA (extracted from leaf tissue with TRIzol Reagent [Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA]) with HSP70 and coat protein (CP) gene primers (1). HSP70 and CP gene RT-PCR products of the expected sizes (175 and 707 nt, respectively) were amplified, sequenced, and found to be 100% identical for all three pigweed samples. The partial HSP70 gene sequence from pigweed shared 98.3 to 100% nucleotide identity with CYSDV isolates from Arizona, California, and Spain (GenBank Accession Nos. FJ492808, EU596530, and NC_004810, respectively). The partial CP gene sequence from pigweed shared 88.8 to 100% nucleotide identity with CYSDV isolates from Arizona, Saudi Arabia, Texas, and Spain (GenBank Accession Nos. EF210558, AF312811, AF312806, and AF312808, respectively). To our knowledge, this is the first report of CYSDV infection of pigweed in Florida. Infection of redroot pigweed (A. retroflexus) was recently reported in California (4). These results collectively indicate that control of noncucurbit weeds may be important for effective management of CYSDV in cucurbit crops.
References: (1) S. Adkins et al. Online publication. doi:10.1094/PHP-2009-1118-01-BR. Plant Health Progress, 2009. (2) L. Holm et al. World's Weeds: Natural Histories and Distributions. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York, NY, 1997. (3) W. W. Turechek et al. Phytopathology 100:1194, 2010. (4) W. M. Wintermantel et al. Plant Dis. 93:685, 2009.
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