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Two Paths of Sequence Divergence in the Citrus Tristeza Virus Complex

April 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  4
Pages  336 - 342

Mark E. Hilf , Alexander V. Karasev , Maria R. Albiach-Marti , William O. Dawson , and Stephen M. Garnsey

First and fifth authors: USDA-ARS, Horticultural Research Laboratory, 2120 Camden Road, Orlando, FL 32803; and second, third, and fourth authors: University of Florida, Department of Plant Pathology, Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred 33850

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Accepted for publication 8 January 1999.

Comparison of a sampling of complementary DNA (cDNA) sequences from the Florida citrus tristeza virus (CTV) isolates T3 and T30 to the sequence of the genome of the Israeli isolate VT showed a relatively consistent or symmetrical distribution of nucleotide sequence identity in both the 5′ and 3′ regions of the 19.2-kb genome. In contrast, comparison of these sequences to the sequence of isolate T36 showed a dramatic decrease in sequence identity in the 5′ proximal 11 kb of the genome. A cDNA probe derived from this region of the T36 genome hybridized to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) of only 3 of 10 different Florida CTV isolates. In contrast, analogous probes from T3 and T30 hybridized differentially to the seven isolates not selected by the T36 probe. Primers designed from cDNA sequence for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) selectively amplified these 10 isolates, allowing them to be classified as similar to T3, T30, or T36. In contrast, individual cDNA probes derived from the 3′ terminal open reading frames of the T3, T30, and T36 genomes all hybridized to dsRNA from all Florida CTV isolates tested, and PCR primers designed from the T36 capsid protein gene sequence amplified successfully from all isolates. Based on these data, we propose the creation of two groups of CTV, exemplified by the VT and T36 isolates, respectively. Isolates in the VT group, which include isolates VT, T3, and T30, have genomic sequence divergence that is relatively constant in proportion and distribution throughout the genome, and candidate isolates for that group could be considered strains of the same virus. The T36 group is differentiated from the VT group by the highly divergent 5′ genomic sequence. This 5′ region of the CTV genome, thus, can serve as a measure of the extent of sequence divergence and can be used to define new groups and group members in the CTV complex.

The American Phytopathological Society, 1999