Yellow leaf disease, caused by Sugarcane yellow leaf virus (SCYLV), is widespread around the world but very little information is available on this viral disease in Argentina. Therefore, the aims of the study were to assess the presence of SCYLV, analyze its distribution in the main sugarcane production areas of Argentina, characterize the virus, and determine histological alterations caused by its presence. For this purpose, 148 sugarcane samples with and without symptoms were collected in 2011 and 2012 from the province of Tucumán. One additional sample was collected in Salta, a different geographical, agroecological, and producing region. Results showed that SCYLV is widely distributed in commercial varieties of sugarcane throughout Tucumán in both symptomatic and asymptomatic leaves. A low but statistically significant positive correlation with virus detection and disease symptoms was found. BRA-PER was the only genotype detected by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and sequence analysis of the SCYLV capsid protein gene. SCYLV-positive samples showed high starch levels in bundle sheath cells, whereas the asymptomatic ones, probably in an early stage of infection, were found to contain more chloroplasts. Symptomatic noninfected samples presented crystal formation probably associated with phytoplasma infection.
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