D. Ristić, and
D. Nikolić, Institute of Plant Protection, Department of Phytopathology, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Agriculture, Nemanjina 6, 11080 Belgrade, Serbia;
J. Berenji, Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops, Maksima Gorkog 30, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia; and
B. Krstić, Institute of Plant Protection, Department of Phytopathology, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Agriculture, Nemanjina 6, 11080 Belgrade, Serbia. This investigation was supported by grants III-43001 and TR-31025 financed from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia
During a survey of cucurbit viruses in the Gornji Tavankut locality (North Bačka District), Serbia in June 2011, field-grown (a surface of 1.8 ha) watermelon plants (Citrullus lanatus [Thunb.] Matsum and Nakai) with mild mosaic symptoms were observed. Large numbers of Aphis gossypii were colonizing the crop. A total of 26 samples, six from plants exhibiting mosaic and 20 from asymptomatic plants, were analyzed by double-antibody sandwich-ELISA using polyclonal antisera virus (Bioreba AG, Reinach, Switzerland) against three cucurbit-infecting viruses known to infect Cucurbita pepo in Serbia: Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV), Cucumber mosaic virus, and Watermelon mosaic virus (3). Commercial positive and negative controls were included in ELISA analysis. Only six symptomatic samples tested positive for ZYMV, but no other tested viruses were found. The virus was mechanically transmitted from a representative ELISA-positive watermelon sample (550-11) to five plants of C. pepo ‘Ezra F1’ and severe mosaic was noticed 10 days after inoculation. For further confirmation of ZYMV infection, total RNA from a naturally infected watermelon plant and symptomatic C. pepo ‘Ezra F1’ plants were extracted with the RNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany). Reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was performed with the One-Step RT-PCR Kit (Qiagen) using primer pair ZY-2 and ZY-3 (2). Total RNA obtained from a Serbian isolate of ZYMV from pumpkin (GenBank Accession No. HM072432) and healthy watermelon plants were used as positive and negative controls, respectively. The expected sizes of the RT-PCR products (1,186 bp) were amplified from naturally and mechanically infected symptomatic samples, but not from healthy tissues. The amplified product that derived from isolate 550-11 was purified (QIAquick PCR Purification Kit, Qiagen), sequenced in both directions, deposited in GenBank (Accession No. JN561294), and subjected to sequence analysis using MEGA4 software. Sequence comparisons revealed a high nucleotide identity of 99.9 to 99.8% and 100 to 99.6% amino acid identity for the CP gene with Serbian ZYMV isolates from C. pepo (Accession Nos. JF308188, HM072431, and HM072432). The nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of the entire CP gene (837 nt) of the Serbian ZYMV isolate from watermelon shared 99.9 to 93.7% and 100 to 96.8% identity, respectively, with innumerous isolates of ZYMV deposited in the GenBank (e.g., Accession Nos. AJ420012–17 and FJ705262). To our knowledge, this is the first report of ZYMV spreading its host range to watermelon in Serbia. ZYMV infection has been responsible for severe epidemics on cucurbits throughout the world (1). The presence of ZYMV on watermelon could therefore represent a serious threat for this valuable crop in Serbia, especially considering that it is prevalent in other cucurbit crops in the country and the vectors are widespread.
References: (1) H. Lecoq et al. Virus Res. 141:190, 2009. (2) K. G. Thomson et al. J. Virol. Methods 55:83, 1995. (3) A. Vučurović et al. Pestic. Phytomed. (Belgrade) 24:85, 2009.