United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, 1636 East Alisal Street, Salinas, CA 93905.
Moroccan pepper virus (MPV) and Lettuce necrotic stunt virus (LNSV) have been steadily increasing in prevalence in central Asia and western North America, respectively, over the past decade. Recent sequence analysis of LNSV demonstrated a close relationship between the coat proteins of LNSV and MPV. To determine the full extent of the relationship between LNSV and MPV, the genomes of three MPV isolates were sequenced and compared with that of LNSV. Sequence analysis demonstrated that genomic nucleotide sequences as well as virus-encoded proteins of the three MPV isolates and LNSV shared 97% or greater identity. A full-length clone of a California LNSV isolate was developed and virus derived from infectious transcripts was used to evaluate host plant reactions under controlled conditions. Symptoms of LNSV matched those described previously for MPV on most of a select series of host plants, although some differences were observed. Collectively, these molecular and biological results demonstrate that LNSV should be classified as MPV within the family Tombusviridae, genus Tombusvirus, and confirm the presence of MPV in North America.