In September 2012, a novel disease syndrome was observed in zucchini (Cucurbita pepo L.) crops in Murcia Province (southeastern Spain). Symptoms included curling, vein swelling, and severe mosaic in young leaves, short internodes, and fruit skin roughness, resembling begomovirus infection. Similar symptoms were observed in May 2013 in Almería Province (southern Spain). DNA was isolated from 8 and 7 symptomatic leaf samples collected in Murcia and Almería, respectively, and analyzed by PCR with primers GemCP-V-5′ and GemCP-C-3′ designed to detect begomoviruses by amplifying the core of coat protein gene (CP) (3). DNA fragments of the expected size (~600 bp) were amplified supporting a begomovirus infection. The DNA sequences obtained from four samples were identical. BLAST analysis showed the highest nucleotide identity (98%) with partial CP gene sequences from isolates of Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) infecting cucumber in India (GenBank Accession No. KC846817). ToLCNDV, a bipartite begomovirus first reported from tomato, also infects other solanaceous and cucurbitaceous crops in India and neighboring countries (1). DNA from two samples from Murcia and three from Almería was used for rolling-circle amplification using φ29 DNA polymerase (TempliPhi kit, GE Healthcare, Little Chalfont, UK) and digested with a set of restriction endonucleases. All five samples yielded amplification products with identical restriction patterns. Two samples from Murcia (MU-8.1 and MU-11.1) and one from Almería (AL-661) were selected to clone the putative DNA-A and DNA-B begomovirus genome components by using single BamHI or NcoI sites. Inserts of two clones from each sample, one corresponding to DNA-A and one to DNA-B, were completely sequenced. The cloned genomes exhibited the typical organization of Old World bipartite begomoviruses (1). Sequences were aligned with begomovirus sequences available in databases using MUSCLE and pairwise identity scores were calculated with SDT (species demarcation tool ). DNA-A sequences obtained from Murcia (2,738 nt, KF749224 and KF749225) and Almería (2,738 nt, KF749223) shared >99% nucleotide identity, with the highest nucleotide identity (91.3 to 91.5%) with that of an Indian ToLCNDV isolate from chilli (HM007120). DNA-B sequences (2,684 nt, KF749226, KF749227, and KF749228) shared >99% nucleotide identity, and showed the highest nucleotide identity (83.1 to 83.3%) with that of a Pakistani ToLCNDV isolate from Solanum nigrum (AJ620188). Nucleotide sequence identity of DNA-A with the most closely related begomoviruses was above the 91% threshold for species demarcation (2), thus confirming that the begomoviruses found infecting zucchini in Spain are isolates of ToLCNDV. In fall 2013, the disease was widespread in zucchini both in Murcia and Almería, and ToLCNDV has also been found infecting melon and cucumber crops. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a bipartite begomovirus in Spain and Europe.
References: (1) J. K. Brown et al. Page 351 in: Virus Taxonomy. Ninth Report of the ICTV. A. M. Q. King et al., eds. Elsevier/Academic Press, London, 2012. (2) ICTV Geminiviridae Study Group. New species and revised taxonomy proposal for the genus Begomovirus (Geminiviridae). ICTV. Retrieved from http://talk.ictvonline.org/files/proposals/ taxonomy_proposals_plant1/m/plant04/4720.aspx, 10 October 2013. (3) H. Lecoq and C. Desbiez. Adv. Virus Res. 84:67, 2012. (4) B. Muhire et al. Arch. Virol. 158:1411, 2013.
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