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Tomato yellow leaf curl virus in the Dominican Republic: Characterization of an Infectious Clone, Virus Monitoring in Whiteflies, and Identification of Reservoir Hosts

May 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  5
Pages  487 - 496

Raquel Salati , Medhat K. Nahkla , Maria R. Rojas , Pablo Guzman , Jose Jaquez , Douglas P. Maxwell , and Robert L. Gilbertson

First, third, and seventh authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis 95616; second and sixth authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706; fourth author: California Crop Improvement Association, Parson Seed Certification Center, University of California, Davis 95616; and fifth author: Transagricola S.A., Santiago, Dominican Republic

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Accepted for publication 14 January 2002.

Epidemics of tomato yellow leaf curl disease (TYLCD) in the Dominican Republic in the early to mid-1990s resulted in catastrophic losses to processing tomato production. As part of an integrated management approach to TYLCD, the complete nucleotide sequence of a full-length infectious clone of an isolate of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) from the Dominican Republic (TYLCV-[DO]) was determined. The TYLCV-[DO] genome was nearly identical in sequence (>97%) and genome organization to TYLCV isolates from Israel and Cuba. This established that TYLCV-[DO] is a bonafide TYLCV isolate (rather than a recombinant virus, such as isolates from Israel [Mild], Portugal, Japan, and Iran), and provided further evidence for the introduction of the virus from the eastern Mediterranean. A reduction in the incidence of TYLCV in the northern and southern processing tomato production areas of the Dominican Republic has been associated with the implementation of a mandatory 3-month whitefly host-free period (including tomato, common bean, cucurbits, eggplant, and pepper). Monitoring TYLCV levels in whiteflies, by polymerase chain reaction with TYLCV-specific primers, established that the incidence of TYLCV decreased markedly during the host-free period, and then gradually increased during the tomato-growing season. In contrast, TYLCV persisted in whiteflies and tomato plants in an area in which the host-free period was not implemented. Surveys for TYLCV reservoir hosts, conducted to identify where TYLCV persists during the host-free period, revealed symptomless infections in a number of weed species. The implications of these findings for TYLCV management in the Dominican Republic are discussed.

Additional keywords: begomovirus, Bemisia tabaci, whitefly-transmitted geminivirus.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society