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A Novel Virus of the Genus Cilevirus Causing Symptoms Similar to Citrus Leprosis

May 2013 , Volume 103 , Number  5
Pages  488 - 500

Avijit Roy, Nandlal Choudhary, Leon M. Guillermo, Jonathan Shao, Ananthakrishnan Govindarajulu, Diann Achor, G. Wei, D. D. Picton, L. Levy, M. K. Nakhla, John S. Hartung, and R. H. Brlansky

First, second, fifth, sixth, and twelfth authors: University of Florida, IFAS, Plant Pathology Department, Citrus Research and Education Center, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred; third author: Centro de Investigación La Libertad, CORPOICA, Villavicencio, Colombia; fourth and eleventh authors: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)–Agricultural Research Service, MPPL, Beltsville, MD; seventh, eighth, and tenth authors: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) PPQ-CPHST, Beltsville, MD; and ninth author, USDA-APHIS-PPQ-CPHST, Riverdale, MD.

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Accepted for publication 14 November 2012.

Citrus leprosis in Colombia was previously shown to be caused by cytoplasmic Citrus leprosis virus (CiLV-C). In 2011, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)-based diagnostic methods failed to identify CiLV-C from citrus samples with symptoms similar to citrus leprosis; however, virions similar to CiLV-C were observed in the cytoplasm of the symptomatic leaves by transmission electron microscopy. Furthermore, the causal organism was transmitted by the false spider mite, Brevipalpus phoenicis, to healthy citrus seedlings. A library of small RNAs was constructed from symptomatic leaves and used as the template for Illumina high-throughput parallel sequencing. The complete genome sequence and structure of a new bipartite RNA virus was determined. RNA1 (8,717 nucleotides [nt]) contained two open reading frames (ORFs). ORF1 encoded the replication module, consisting of five domains: namely, methyltransferase (MTR), cysteine protease-like, FtsJ-MTR, helicase (Hel), and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp); whereas ORF2 encoded the putative coat protein. RNA2 (4,989 nt) contained five ORFs that encode the movement protein (MP) and four hypothetical proteins (p7, p15, p24, and p61). The structure of this virus genome resembled that of CiLV-C except that it contained a long 3′ untranslated terminal region and an extra ORF (p7) in RNA2. Both the RNA1 and RNA2 of the new virus had only 58 and 50% nucleotide identities, respectively, with known CiLV-C sequences and, thus, it appears to be a novel virus infecting citrus. Phylogenetic analyses of the MTR, Hel, RdRp, and MP domains also indicated that the new virus was closely related to CiLV-C. We suggest that the virus be called Citrus leprosis virus cytoplasmic type 2 (CiLV-C2) and it should be unambiguously classified as a definitive member of the genus Cilevirus. A pair of CiLV-C2 genome-specific RT-PCR primers was designed and validated to detect its presence in citrus leprosis samples collected from the Casanare and Meta states in Colombia.

Additional keywords: citrus virus, deep sequencing, detection, Illumina, mite transmission.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society