Resolution of cassava-infecting alphaflexiviruses: Molecular and biological characterization of a novel group of potexviruses lacking the TGB3 gene.
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Several potexviruses (Family Alphaflexiviridae) have been reported infecting cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) in the Americas. They were isolated from severely diseased plants during the last 30-40 years and include: Cassava common mosaic virus (CsCMV), Cassava Caribbean mosaic virus (CsCaMV), Cassava Colombian symptomless virus (CsCSV) and Cassava virus X (CsVX). However, their definitive classification as distinct species remains unresolved for several reasons, including the lack of sequence data and unavailability of samples from original isolates. This complicates disease diagnostics, cassava germplasm exchange certification, evaluation of virus cleaning protocols and epidemiological studies. Furthermore, a recently detected novel alphaflexivirus, indicates that cassava-infecting potexviruses may be more diverse. To solve the identity of these viruses, we started indexing samples from different parts of Colombia using different sets of PCR primers, antisera available and inoculation to indicator plants. Results show that there are three major phylogenetic groups of potexviruses infecting cassava, and they correspond to CsCMV, CsVX and the newly identified Cassava new alphaflexivirus (CsNAV). Bioassays and sequence analysis established that isolates of CsNAV and CsVX cause latent infections in different cassava landraces, they are not efficiently transmitted to the indicator plant Nicotiana benthamiana and they lack the gene 3 of the conserved potexviral 'triple gene block' (TGB). In contrast, all isolates of CsCMV (which have a characteristic potexvirus genome arrangement) caused Cassava Common Mosaic Disease (CCMD) in single infections and were efficiently transmitted to N. benthamiana. Although phylogenetic analysis of the replicase sequence placed CsNAV and CsVX as members of the Potexvirus genus, their distinct genome arrangement and biological characteristics suggest they can be considered as members of a separate taxonomic group.
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