Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University–Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Prosser 99350.
It is demonstrated that closely related viruses within the family Betaflexiviridae are associated with a number of diseases that affect sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and other Prunus spp. Cherry rusty mottle-associated virus (CRMaV) is correlated with the appearance of cherry rusty mottle disease (CRMD), and Cherry twisted leaf-associated virus (CTLaV) is linked to cherry twisted leaf disease (CTLD) and apricot ringpox disease (ARPD). Comprehensive analysis of previously reported full genomic sequences plus those determined in this study representing isolates of CTLaV, CRMaV, Cherry green ring mottle virus, and Cherry necrotic rusty mottle virus revealed segregation of sequences into four clades corresponding to distinct virus species. High-throughput sequencing of RNA from representative source trees for CRMD, CTLD, and ARPD did not reveal additional unique virus sequences that might be associated with these diseases, thereby further substantiating the association of CRMaV and CTLaV with CRMD and CTLD or ARPD, respectively. Based on comparison of the nucleotide and amino acid sequence identity values, phylogenetic relationships with other triple-gene block-coding viruses within the family Betaflexiviridae, genome organization, and natural host range, a new genus (Robigovirus) is suggested.