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Distribution of Four Viruses in Single and Mixed Infections Within Infected Watermelon Plants in Florida

November 2010 , Volume 100 , Number  11
Pages  1,194 - 1,203

William W. Turechek, Chandrasekar S. Kousik, and Scott Adkins

First and third authors: United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, 2001 South Rock Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34945; and second author: USDA-ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, 2700 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29414.

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Accepted for publication 23 June 2010.

Whitefly-transmitted Squash vein yellowing virus (SqVYV) and Cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV) and aphid-transmitted Papaya ringspot virus type W (PRSV-W) have had serious impact on watermelon production in southwest and west-central Florida in the past 5 years. Tissue-blot nucleic acid hybridization assays were developed for simple, high-throughput detection of these three viruses as well as Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV), which was first reported in Florida in 2008. To determine virus distribution within plants, we collected 80 entire plants just before or during the harvest period in a systematic sample, 20 each on 11 April, 18 April, 26 April, and 3 May 2007, from a fruiting commercial watermelon field near Immokalee, FL showing symptoms of infection by SqVYV, CuLCrV, and PRSV-W and, possibly, CYSDV. This was followed by a sampling of five plants collected at harvest showing symptoms of virus infection on 11 October 2007 in a different commercial planting located in Duette, FL. Tissue prints were made from cross sections of watermelon plants from the crowns through the tips at 0.6-m intervals on nylon membranes and nucleic acid hybridization assays were used for virus detection. Results from testing crown tissue showed that SqVYV, CuLCrV, and PRSV-W were present in ≈37, 44, and 54%, respectively, of the 80 plants collected over the four sampling dates from the first field. For individual vines diagnosed with SqVYV, the distribution of SqVYV in vine tissue decreased proportionately with distance from the crown. The probability of detecting SqVYV was 70% at the base of the vine compared with 23% at the tip of the vine. In contrast, CuLCrV tended to be more evenly distributed throughout the plant, with ≈10% higher probability of detection at the growing tip relative to the crown of the plant. The distribution of PRSV-W resembled that of SqVYV but with ≈20% higher probability of detection at the tip of the vine. Similar trends were detected in the smaller sampling; however, CYSDV was also detected in three of the plants. Overall, the results indicated that SqVYV and PRSV-W were distributed differently than CuLCrV in watermelon plants, and this difference has implications on how samples should be collected and may affect vector acquisition and transmission of these viruses.

Additional keywords: epidemiology, Jaccard index.

This article is in the public domain and not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with customary crediting of the source. The American Phytopathological Society, 2010.