C. Hernandez-Zepeda, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson;
T. Isakeit, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University, College Station;
A. Scott, Jr., Rio Farms, Inc., Monte Alto, TX; and
J. K. Brown, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson
During the okra growing season from August to November of 2009, symptoms reminiscent of geminivirus infection were observed on 75% of ‘Green Emerald’ Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench, plants in a 0.2-km2 field in Hidalgo County, TX. Visible symptoms consisted of irregular yellow patches on leaves, distinctive yellow borders on leaf edges, and chlorosis of subsequently developing leaves. The whitefly vector of begomoviruses, Bemisia tabaci (Genn.), infested okra plants in the early growth stages during late July 2009. Total DNA was isolated from the leaves of three symptomatic okra plant samples (1) and used as the PCR template to amplify a 575-bp fragment of the coat protein gene (CP) using the universal begomovirus primers AV494 and AC1048 (2). PCR products of the expected size were cloned into the pGEM-T Easy (Promega, Madison, WI) and sequenced using the universal M13F and M13 R primers. ClustalV alignment indicated 99 to 100% shared nucleotide (nt) identity, and BLAST analysis revealed that the closest relative was Okra yellow mosaic Mexico virus - Tetekalitla (OkYMMV) (GenBank Accession No. EF591631) at 98%. To amplify the full-length DNA-A and a possible cognate DNA-B component, one plant that was positive by CP-PCR and DNA sequencing was selected for further analysis. Total DNA from this plant was used as template for a second detection method that consisted of rolling circle amplification (RCA) using the TempliPhi 100 Amplification System (GE Healthcare). RCA is a non-sequence-specific approach that permits amplification of circular DNA. The RCA products were linearized to release unit length ~2.6 kb DNA-A and DNA-B components using BamHI, and EcoRI, respectively. These products were cloned into pGEM3zf+ (Promega) and sequenced using M13F and M13 R primers and then by primer walking (>300 base overlap). Full-length DNA-A and DNA-B components were obtained, respectively, at 2,613 bp (GenBank Accession No. HM035059) and 2,594 bp (GenBank Accession No HM035060). Alignment of the DNA-A component using ClustalV (MegAlign, DNASTAR, Madison, WI) with begomoviral sequences available in GenBank indicated that it was 99% identical to OkYMMV DNA-A (GenBank Accession No. DQ022611). The closest relative to the DNA-B component (ClustalV) was Sida golden mosaic virus (SiGMV) (GenBank Accession No. AJ250731) at 73%. The nt identity of the 172-nt ‘common region’ present in the DNA-A and DNA-B components was 99%, and the iterons (predicted Rep binding motif) were identical for the two components, indicating that they are a cognate pair. The genome organization was typical of other New World bipartite begomoviruses. The economic losses due to infection by this virus could not be determined because an early freeze killed the plants. Hidalgo County is adjacent to Tamaulipas, Mexico, where ~50 km2 of okra are grown and the whitefly vector is also present. The identification of OkYMMV based on two independent detection methods, and the presence of begomovirus-like symptoms together with the whitefly vector, provide robust evidence for the association of OkYMMV-TX with diseased okra plants. To our knowledge, this is the first report of OkYMMV-TX infecting okra crops in Texas and in the continental United States.
References: (1) J. J. Doyle and J. L. Doyle. Focus 12:13, 1990. (2) S. Wyatt and J. K. Brown. Phytopathology 86:1288, 1996.