Cotton leaf curl disease (CLCuD) was first reported in Sudan in 1931. Disease symptoms in cotton were characterized by vein thickening and leaf curling, and the suspect causal agent was shown to be transmitted by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Genn.) among cotton, okra, and several weed species (2). Although begomovirus etiology was suspected based on symptomatology and vector transmission, no evidence was available that confirmed or disputed this hypothesis. During 1994 to 1996, four cotton samples exhibiting typical CLCuD symptoms were collected from different fields in the Gezira region in Central Sudan and examined for presence of begomovirus DNA. Total nucleic acids were isolated from cotton plants and subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using degenerate primers (pAV 2644 and pAC 1154) to amplify begomovirus coat protein (Cp) gene and its flanking sequences (1). An amplicon of the expected size (1,300 bp) was obtained by PCR from each sample, and their nucleotide (nt) sequences were determined. Virus-specific primers designed around the Cp sequence were used to amplify an apparent full-length DNA component. Amplicons were cloned and their sequences were determined, yielding a begomoviral component of approximately 2,761 nt (AF260241). Despite exhaustive attempts to amplify a putative viral B-component using degenerate primers based on the intergenic region sequence of the putative “A-component,” or sequences that are highly conserved for other begomoviruses, no B component was detected. The four cotton isolates shared 99.9 to 100% nt sequence identity, and the number and arrangement of predicted open reading frames were similar to those known for other monopartite begomoviruses. Phylogenetic analysis of the putative CLCuV genome with other begomoviruses indicated that its closest relative was Althea rosea enation virus (AREV) from Egypt (AF014881) with which it shares 79% sequence identity, indicating that CLCuV is a unique begomovirus species with a probable origin in the Eastern Hemisphere. CLCuV shared 66% identity with its second closest relative, Cotton leaf curl virus-Pakistan (CLCuV-PK) (AJ002448). These data provide the first direct evidence for the association of a monopartite begomovirus with the leaf curl disease of cotton in Gezira, Sudan, that is distinct from all other begomoviral species described to date. Herein, we provisionally designate this unique begomoviral species as Cotton leaf curl virus from Sudan (CLCuV-SD).
References: (1) A. M. Idris and J. K. Brown. Phytopathology 88:648, 1998. (2) A. M. Nour and J. J. Nour. Emp. Cott. Gr. Rev. 41:27, 1964.