Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Prosser 99350.
Virus RNA sequences related to those of the family Betaflexiviridae were amplified from trees affected with the following diseases: cherry twisted leaf, apricot ring pox, cherry necrotic rusty mottle, cherry rusty mottle, and cherry green ring mottle. Phylogenetic analysis of virus sequences obtained from these diseased trees from western North America, along with published sequences of Cherry green ring mottle virus (CGRMV) and Cherry necrotic rusty mottle virus (CNRMV), revealed four major clades. Segregation into these four populations correlated with distinct symptom expression on woody indicators, suggesting that each clade represents a distinct virus species within the family Betaflexiviridae. The viruses occupying each clade were designated clade I: Cherry twisted leaf associated virus, clade II: CNRMV, clade III: Cherry rusty mottle associated virus, and clade IV: CGRMV. Potential recombination events were predicted to occur within and between these viruses, the latter being strongly supported by incongruent phylogenies. Examination of frequency distribution data derived from pairwise sequence comparisons of coat protein coding sequences resulted in a proposal for alternative guidelines for species demarcation for this family of viruses.