The genus Fuchsia has 110 known species and numerous hybrids. These ornamental plants with brightly colored flowers originate from Central and South America, New Zealand, and Tahiti, but a wider variety are now grown all over the world. Few viruses have been reported in Fuchsia spp.: a carlavirus, Fuchsia latent virus (FLV) (1–3), a cucumovirus, Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) (3), and two tospoviruses, Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) and Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) (4). In August 2009, five plants, each representing a different cultivar of Fuchsia hybrid, from home gardens in the Auckland and Southland regions of New Zealand, displayed variable symptoms including mild chlorosis, mild mottle, or purple spots on leaves. Plants tested negative for CMV, INSV, and TSWV using commercial ImmunoStrips (Agdia Inc., Elkhart, IN); however, flexuous particles of ~650 to 700 nm were found by electron microscopy in all samples. Local lesions were also observed on Chenopodium quinoa plants 4 weeks after sap inoculation. Total RNA was extracted from all plants with a RNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen Inc., Doncaster, Australia) and tested by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR using two generic sets of primers (R. van der Vlugt, personal communication) designed to amplify fragments of ~730 and 550 bp of the replicase and coat protein genes of carlaviruses, respectively. Amplicons of the expected size were obtained for all samples, cloned, and at least three clones per sample were sequenced. No differences within clones from the same samples were observed (GenBank Accession Nos. HQ197672 to HQ197681). A BLASTn search of the viral replicase fragment showed the highest nucleotide identity (76%) to Potato rough dwarf virus (PRDV) (EU020009), whereas the coat protein fragment had maximum nucleotide identity (70 to 72%) to PRDV (EU020009 and DQ640311) and Potato virus P (DQ516055). Sequences obtained were also pairwise aligned using the MegAlign program (DNASTAR, Inc., Madison, WI) and results showed that the isolates had 83 to 97% identity to each other within each genome region. Further sequences (HQ197925 and HQ197926) were obtained from a Fuchsia plant originating from Belgium, a BLASTn analysis showed high nucleotide identity (84 to 99%) to the New Zealand isolates. The low genetic identity to other Carlavirus members suggests that these isolates belong to a different species from those previously sequenced. On the basis of electron microscopy and herbaceous indexing, the isolates had similar characteristics to a carlavirus reported from Fuchsia in Italy (1) and FLV reported in Canada (2). The Italian carlavirus isolate was obtained and tested with the same primers by RT-PCR. Pairwise analysis of the Italian sequences (HQ197927 and HQ197928) with the New Zealand and Belgian sequences showed between 84 and 95% similarity within each genome region. These results suggest that the carlavirus infecting these plants is the same virus, possibly FLV. To our knowledge, this is the first report of this carlavirus infecting Fuchsia spp. in New Zealand, but the virus has probably been present for some time in this country and is likely to be distributed worldwide.
References: (1) G. Dellavalle et al. Acta Hortic. 432:332, 1996. (2) L. J. John et al. Acta Hortic. 110:195, 1980. (3) P. Roggero et al. Plant Pathol. 49:802, 2000. (4) R. Wick and B. Dicklow. Diseases in Fuchsia. Common Names of Plant Diseases. Online publication. The American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 1999.
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