In February 2013, an ornamental waxflower (Hoya calycina Schlecter) with leaves displaying concentric chlorotic and necrotic rings surrounding sunken, necrotic lesions typical of tospovirus infection was observed at a community garden in Honolulu, HI. Symptomatic leaf tissue tested negative for Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), a common tospovirus in Hawaii, using a TSWV ImmunoStrips (AgDia, Elkhart, IN) assay following the manufacturer's instructions. Double-stranded RNAs were isolated from a symptomatic leaf and reverse transcribed using random primers (2). The cDNA was then used as template in a universal tospovirus PCR assay using primers gL3637 and gL4435c, which amplify sequences of the L segment encoding the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of tospoviruses (1). An ~800-bp product was amplified and cloned using pGEM-T Easy (Promega, Madison, WI). Three clones were selected and found to be identical by dye-terminator sequencing performed at the University of Hawaii's Advanced Studies in Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics laboratory. Following primer sequence trimming, the 773-bp sequence (GenBank Accession No. KF030938) was found to be 97, 88, and 87% identical to Capsicum chlorosis virus (CaCV; a tentative species in the family Bunyaviridae, genus Tospovirus) strains Ch-Har (GU199334), TwTom1 (HM021140), and AIT (DQ256124), respectively. To confirm the presence of CaCV, the cDNA was also used as template in a universal tospovirus PCR assay with primers 3′T12 and TsMCR2 which amplify a region of the S segment of tospoviruses (3). The amplification product from this assay was cloned and sequenced as described above and found to be 93 to 98% identical to CaCV nucleotide sequences present in GenBank. Attempts to detect the CaCV strain in waxflower using a watermelon silver mottle virus and groundnut bud necrosis virus triple antibody sandwich ELISA (AgDia) were unsuccessful. No other plants in the community garden had typical tospovirus-like symptoms; however, samples from tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.; two samples), chili pepper (Capsicum spp.; four samples), eggplant (Solanum melongena L.; one sample), and passionfruit (Passiflora edulis Sims; one sample) with virus-like symptoms were collected from the garden and had RNA isolated using a NucleoSpin RNA II kit (Macherey-Nagel, Bethlehem, PA). No tospoviruses were detected in any of these samples with the RT-PCR assay using primers gL3637 and gL4435. The waxflower plant infected with CaCV was immediately removed by community garden members and destroyed, preventing any additional serological or biological assays to be performed. CaCV is transmitted by several species of thrips, including Thrips palmi, which is present in Hawaii. Waxflower is not native to Hawaii and it is unclear whether CaCV entered Hawaii in this plant or whether it was infected by viruliferous thrips. A survey for CaCV in known hosts is essential to determine the geographic distribution of CaCV in Hawaii, as this virus poses a considerable threat to tomato, chili pepper, and phalaenopsis orchid production in Hawaii and the United States.
References: (1) F.-H. Chu et al. Phytopathology 91:361, 2001. (2) M. J. Melzer et al. Virus Genes 40:111, 2010. (3) M. Okuda and K. Hanada. J. Virol. Methods 96:149, 2001.