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Diversity of begomoviruses causing disease in peppers (Capsicum spp.) in Asia

Lawrence Kenyon: World Vegetable Center

<div>Chili leaf curl- or Pepper yellow leaf curl-type diseases caused by whitefly-transmitted Geminiviruses (Begomoviruses) have emerged over the last 20-30 years as major constraints to pepper (<em>Capsicum</em> spp.) production in many areas of Asia. The diversity of the Begomovirus species and strains associated with the diseases may affect how the diseases can be managed, especially in regard to breeding and selecting for resistance. Using Begomovirus DNA-A component sequences from GenBank and sequences from leaf curl diseased pepper samples collected more recently from different locations across the region, the identity, genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationships of the different causal begomoviruses were assessed. The results indicate that the diseases are usually associated with different virus species or strains in different areas, and the increasing diversity of strains and species in an area is through a combination of movement of known species or strains into the area, and/or the emergence of novel, previously undescribed, species or strain, and/or recombination between different strains and/or species. The possible drivers for the rapid emergence of these different species and strains will be discussed.</div>