The genome components of the Melon chlorotic leaf curl virus (MCLCuV) were cloned from symptomatic cantaloupe leaves collected in Guatemala during 2002. The MCLCuV DNA-A and DNA-B components shared their closest nucleotide identities among begomoviruses, at ∼90 and 81%, respectively, with a papaya isolate of MCLCuV from Costa Rica. The closest relatives at the species level were other members of the Squash leaf curl virus (SLCV) clade, which is endemic in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Biolistic inoculation of cantaloupe seedlings with the MCLCuV DNA-A and -B components resulted in the development of characteristic disease symptoms, providing definitive evidence of causality. MCLCuV experimentally infected species within the Cucurbitaceae, Fabaceae, and Solanaceae. The potential for interspecific reassortment was examined for MCLCuV and its closest relatives, including the bean-restricted Bean calico mosaic virus (BCaMV), and three other cucurbit-infecting species, Cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV), SLCV, and SMLCV. The cucurbit viruses have distinct but overlapping host ranges. All possible reassortants were established using heterologous combinations of the DNA-A or DNA-B components. Surprisingly, only certain reassortants arising from MCLCuV and BCaMV, or MCLCuV and CuLCrV, were viable in bean, even though it is a host of all of the "wild-type" (parent) viruses. The bean-restricted BCaMV was differentially assisted in systemically infecting the cucurbit test species by the components of the four cucurbit-adapted begomoviruses. In certain heterologous combinations, the BCaMV DNA-A or -B component was able to infect one or more cucurbit species. Generally, the reassortants were less virulent in the test hosts than the respective wild-type (parent) viruses, strongly implicating adaptive modulation of virulence. This is the first illustration of reassortment resulting in the host range expansion of a host-restricted begomovirus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science