International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru-502324, India
Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie DD2 5DA, Scotland, UK
Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati-517502, India
Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie
D. V. R.
In attempts to identify the causal agent of pigeonpea sterility mosaic disease (PSMD), which is transmitted by eriophyid mites, a virus was isolated with great difficulty from some PSMD-affected pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) plants from different locations in India. Once isolated from pigeonpea, the virus was transmitted readily by mechanical inoculation to several herbaceous species, reaching very high concentrations in some species. The virus was transmitted experimentally through soil to herbaceous test plants but not to pigeonpea. When virus particles were purified and inoculated mechanically to healthy pigeonpea, the virus induced necrosis in inoculated leaves only and did not spread systemically. Therefore, the virus is not the causal agent of PSMD. The virus has isometric particles approximately 30 nm in diameter that sediment as a single component and had a buoyant density in CsCl and Cs2SO4 of 1.34 and 1.27 g·cc-1, respectively. Purified virus particle preparations contained a single major protein of approximately 44 kDa and three RNA species of approximately 4,300, 2,700, and 1,500 nucleotides. Only the largest RNA species was infective to plants; the two smaller species were encapsidated subgenomic species of the 3′ end of the larger genomic RNA. The viral genome was sequenced and showed 93% homology to that of Pothos latent virus (PoLV), a recently described virus in the genus Aureusvirus, family Tombusviridae, and was indistinguishable from PoLV in gel double-diffusion serological tests. This virus, therefore, is regarded as a pigeonpea isolate of PoLV (PoLV-PP). In field studies in different locations in India, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction detected PoLV-PP in 10.7% of PSMD-affected and 8.1% of asymptomatic pigeonpea plants. The significance of these findings is discussed.