Mild leaf curling and yellowing symptoms were observed in approximately 5% of 1-month-old tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum) in a farmer's field in Tengeru, Arusha, Tanzania in January 2006. DNA was extracted from four symptomatic and five asymptomatic plants and tested for the presence of begomovirus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primer pair PAL1v1978/PAR1c715 (4). All asymptomatic samples were negative. Two of four symptomatic samples yielded the expected 1.4-kb DNA-A fragment for begomovirus. DNA-B was not detected in these two samples by PCR using the DNA-B degenerate primer pairs DNABLC1/DNABLV2 and DNABLC2/DNABLV2 (2), and PBL1v2040/PCRc1 and PBL1v2040/PCRc154 (4). DNA-beta was also not detectable using DNA-beta specific primers (1). The 1.4-kb PCR product from one sample was cloned and sequenced. On the basis of the sequence of the 1.4-kb DNA product, specific primers were designed to complete the DNA-A sequence. The DNA-A consisted of 2,766 nucleotides (Genbank Accession No. DQ519575) and was found to contain the geminiviral conserved nanosequence-TAATATTAC in the intergenic region and the six predicted open reading frames (V1, V2, C1, C2, C3, and C4). BLAST analysis was conducted with geminivirus sequences available in GenBank, and MegAlign software (DNASTAR, Inc, Madison, WI) was used for further comparisons. Highest sequence identity (84%) was with the partially sequenced Tomato leaf curl Tanzania virus found in Makutupora, Tanzania in 1994 (1,523 nucleotides, Genbank Accession No. U73498) in the 1,919 nt to 679 nt region. Low sequence identity (78%) was noted with Tomato yellow leaf curl Sardinia virus (Genbank Accession No. X61153) that is reportedly prevalent in Arusha, Morogoro, Dodoma, Iringa, Kilimanjaro, and Dar es Salaam of Tanzania (3). Comparison of the nucleotide sequence of this new virus with those of full-length begomoviral DNA-A available in GenBank indicated highest sequence identity (81%) with Tomato leaf curl Mayotte virus (EMBL Accession No. AJ865341). On the basis of the DNA-A sequence comparisons and the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses proposed species demarcation of 89% sequence identity, the tomato leaf curl virus from Arusha, Tanzania constitutes a distinct begomovirus and the name Tomato leaf curl Arusha virus is proposed.
References: (1) R. W. Briddon et al. Mol. Biotechnol. 20:315, 2002. (2) S. K. Green et al. Plant Dis. 85:1286, 2001. (3) B. D. Kashina et al. Arch. Phytopathol. Plant Prot. 35:255, 2002 (4) M. R. Rojas et al. Plant Dis. 77:340, 1993.