L. I. Ward, and
G. R. G. Clover, Plant Health and Environment Laboratory, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, P.O. Box 2095, Auckland 1140, New Zealand; and
J. D. Fletcher, Plant and Food Research, Private Bag 4704, Christchurch, New Zealand
In New Zealand, sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a crop of cultural importance and an important food source; it is grown mainly in the districts of Kaipara, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty in the North Island. In January of 2008, virus symptoms that included chlorotic spots, ring spots, and mottling were observed on the leaves of commercial sweet potato crops (cvs. Beauregard, Owairaka Red, and Toka Toka Gold) growing in the three main production areas. A survey was done to determine the extent of virus infection in these crops. Fifty to one hundred leaves were collected randomly from each of 26 different fields. Leaves from each field were bulked into groups of 10, giving a total of 173 composite samples. All samples tested negative for Cucumber mosaic virus, C-6 virus, Sweet potato caulimo-like virus, Sweet potato chlorotic fleck virus, Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (SPCSV), Sweet potato latent virus, and Sweet potato mild specking virus by nitrocellulose membrane enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (International Potato Center-CIP, Lima, Peru). Total nucleic acid was extracted from all 173 composite samples and used in real-time PCR assays specific for Sweet potato leaf curl virus (SPLCV) and real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR specific for SPCSV, Sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV), Sweet potato virus G (SPVG), and Sweet potato virus 2 (SPV2; synonym Sweet potato virus Y) (1). No samples were positive for SPLCV or SPCSV, but 107 and 138 samples tested positive for SPFMV and SPVG, respectively. SPFMV and SPVG have been reported previously in New Zealand (2,3). Sixty four samples from 16 different fields tested positive for SPV2. Of the 64 samples, 52 were also infected with SPVG and SPFMV, and 10 were co-infected with SPVG but not SPFMV; no samples were co-infected with SPV2 and SPFMV when SPVG was absent. From a representative SPV2 positive sample, the 70-bp amplicon obtained by the real-time RT-PCR primers was cloned and sequenced A BLAST search showed 100% nucleotide sequence identity with SPV2 (GenBank Accession Nos. AM050887 and AY178992). Subsequently, primers (V2-F1c: 5′-AGAACAGGACAAACTCAACC-3′; V2-R1: 5′-TAATCACCCTTCACACCTTC-3′) were designed to amplify an approximately 434-bp fragment within the SPV2 coat protein gene. One-step RT-PCR was done on four of the SPV2 positive samples and amplicons of the expected size were sequenced directly (GenBank Accession No. FJ461774). Sequence comparison showed 99% nucleotide sequence identity with SPV2 (GenBank Accession Nos. AM050886, AM050887, AY178992, and EF577437). SPV2 is a member of the genus Potyvirus but the virus has not been fully characterized. It is known that single-potyvirus infections cause mild or no symptoms in sweet potato, and consequently, no significant yield reduction is observed generally. However, co-infection with other viruses such as SPCSV produces a synergistic effect and more severe disease symptoms (4). To our knowledge, this is the first report of SPV2 infecting sweet potato in New Zealand.
References: (1) C. D. Kokinos and C. A. Clark. Plant Dis. 90:783, 2006. (2) M. N. Pearson et al. Australas. Plant Pathol. 35:217, 2006. (3) M. Rännäli et al. Plant Dis. 92:1313, 2008. (4) M. Untiveros et al. Plant Dis. 91:669, 2007.