During late spring of 2012 in Snohomish County of Washington State, chlorotic yellow leaf blotch symptoms suggestive of a virus infection were observed on Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica) planted in a hedge row. Leaf samples from representative trees were initially tested for the presence of Cherry leaf roll virus (CLRV) and Plum pox virus (PPV) by ELISA with antibodies specific to CLRV and general potyvirus, respectively (Agdia, Inc., Elkhart, IN). The ELISA test yielded negative results for both viruses. Reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was pursued to detect other viruses known to infect Prunus spp., namely American plum line pattern virus (APLPV), Apple chlorotic leafspot virus (ACLSV), Cherry mottle leaf virus (CMLV), Cherry raspleaf virus (CRLV), Cherry virus A (CVA), Prune dwarf virus (PDV), and Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (PNRSV), as well as CLRV and PPV. None of these viruses were detected. However, RT-PCR with a generic primer pair Fovea2/AdPr (3) that amplifies the coat protein (CP) coding sequence and 3′-untranslated regions (3′-UTR) of several members of the family Betaflexiviridae yielded a 1.4-kb amplicon that was cloned into pCR2.1 (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) and sequenced (GenBank Accession No. KF356396). The sequences from three clones were 99.8% identical to each other at the nucleotide level. Comparison of the consensus CP coding region with the nucleotide sequence database revealed 86 to 93% identity to Cherry rusty mottle associated virus (CRMaV), and only 73 to 75% identities to Cherry necrotic rusty mottle virus (CNRMV) (1) and 71 to 76% identities to Cherry green ring mottle virus (CGRMV) (4) isolates from sweet cherry (P. avium). This result suggested that the cloned fragment represents a strain of CRMaV. Prunus avium ‘Bing’ and ‘Sam,’ and P. serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ were grafted with bark patches from the symptomatic tree and observed for induction of cherry rusty mottle disease (CRMD) symptoms. Ninety days after grafting, symptoms typical of CRMD consisting of chlorotic yellow mottle appeared on ‘Bing,’ ‘Sam,’ and ‘Kwanzan’ indicators. Small necrotic spots also appeared on the leaves of the latter. Angular necrotic lesions on ‘Sam’ and epinasty of ‘Kwanzan’ that are diagnostic symptoms of cherry necrotic rusty mottle disease (CNRMD) and cherry green ring mottle disease (CGRMD), respectively, were absent from graft inoculated indicators. Further RT-PCR tests on the indicators using primers specific to CNRMV, CGRMV, and CRMaV (2) yielded negative results for CNRMV and CGRMV but showed positive amplification for CRMaV. The results of the woody indexing corroborate the presence of CRMaV but the absence of CNRMV and CGRMV in the symptomatic Portuguese laurel. To our knowledge, this is the first report of CRMaV in Portuguese laurel in the United States and the first description of symptoms associated with CRMaV in this host. As a potential reservoir of CRMaV, Portuguese laurel could play an important component in management of CRMD in cherry production areas where this ornamental cherry is also present.
References: (1) M. E. Rott and W. Jelkmann. Arch. Virol. 146:395, 2001. (2) D. E. V. Villamor and K. C. Eastwell. Phytopathology 103:1287, 2012. (3) D. V. Villamor et al. Arch. Virol. 158:1805, 2013. (4) Y. P. Zhang et al. J. Gen. Virol. 79:2275, 1998.
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