Plant Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), P.O. Box 577, Faisalabad, Pakistan
Department of Virus Research, John Innes Centre, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK
Tomato leaf curl disease is the most important constraint on tomato production in Pakistan, where it is found throughout the country. The disease, which occurs in high incidence in Punjab and Sindh provinces, causes 30 to 40% yield losses in the spring crop and uneconomically high losses when grown as an autumn crop. The symptoms of the disease include upward or downward leaf curling, vein thickening, and stunting of the plant. The disease is transmitted by Bemisia tabaci whiteflies (non-B, biotype K) and is suspected to be caused by a geminivirus. For the detection of geminivirus, total DNA was extracted from infected plants, fractionated in an agarose gel, transferred to a nylon membrane, and Southern blotted. A full-length clone of DNA-A of cotton leaf curl virus from Pakistan (S. Mansoor, I. Bedford, M. S. Pinner, A. Bashir, R. Briddon, J. Stanley, Y. Zafar, K. A. Malik, and P. G. Markham, unpublished) was labeled with [32P]dCTP by the oligo-labeling method and hybridized at medium stringency. Geminivirus DNA forms that are normally found in infected plants were detected in plants with tomato leaf curl disease but not in healthy plants. To further confirm the presence of a whiteflytransmitted geminivirus, universal primers for dicot-infecting geminiviruses (1) were used in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and a product of expected size (approximately 2.7 kb) was detected. The 2.7-kb PCR-amplified DNA from diseased tomato plants was labeled with [32P]dCTP and used as probe in Southern hybridization. This probe also detected geminivirus DNA forms at medium stringency. Both monopartite and bipartite geminiviruses transmitted by whiteflies have been reported to cause leaf curl symptoms on tomato from the Eastern hemisphere. Degenerate primers (PBLv2040 and PCRc1), which amplify B component DNA, were used to determine if tomato leaf curl was monopartite or bipartite (2). A product of expected size (0.65 kb) was amplified, suggesting this virus to be bipartite. DNA-B PCR product obtained from diseased tomato plants was hybridized as described above and detected geminivirus DNA forms at medium stringency. Samples of diseased tomato plants were collected from tomato fields throughout Punjab. DNA-A was detected in all 20 samples whereas DNA B was detected in 17 samples when hybridized by dot blot method at medium stringency. Our data show that tomato leaf curl virus from Pakistan is a bipartite geminivirus. This is the first evidence for a bipartite geminivirus in tomato plants from Pakistan.
References: (1) R. W. Briddon and P. G. Markham. Mol. Biotechnol. 1:202, 1993. (2) M. R. Rojas et al. Plant Dis. 77:340, 1993.