Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Charlottetown Laboratory, 93 Mount Edward Road, Charlottetown, PEI, C1A 5T1, Canad
Alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) was detected in potato fields in several provinces in Canada and characterized by bioassay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The identity of eight Canadian potato AMV isolates was confirmed by sequence analysis of their coat protein (CP) gene. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis indicated that these eight AMV potato isolates fell into one strain group, whereas a slight difference between Ca175 and the other Canadian AMV isolates was revealed. The Canadian AMV isolates, except Ca175, clustered together among other strains based on alignment of the CP gene sequence. To detect the virus, a pair of primers, AMV-F and AMV-R, specific to the AMV CP gene, was designed based on the nucleotide sequence alignment of known AMV strains. Evaluations showed that RT-PCR using this primer set was specific and sensitive for detecting AMV in potato leaf and tuber samples. AMV RNAs were easily detected in composite samples of 400 to 800 potato leaves or 200 to 400 tubers. Restriction analysis of PCR amplicons with SacI was a simple method for the confirmation of PCR tests. Thus, RT-PCR followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis may be a useful approach for screening potato samples on a large scale for the presence of AMV.