MOLECULAR CHARACTERIZATION OF CITRUS TRISTEZA VIRUS ISOLATES FROM CYPRUS ON THE BASIS OF THE COAT PROTEIN GENE
L.C. Papayiannis, C. Santos, A. Kyriakou, T. Kapari, G. Nolasco
Within the context of a program in Cyprus for the control of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV), the coat protein (CP) genes of 12 local isolates of the virus that induced different symptoms on host trees, were compared to those of known isolates. The CP genes were reverse-transcribed (RT) and amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the resulting amplicons were cloned and sequenced. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed no signs of geographic speciation. All the sequences obtained clustered close to those of previously known isolates of worldwide origin that are in five distinct groups. The nucleotide diversity was high compared to that found using a worldwide database of CP gene sequences. These data support the existence of different CTV introductions into Cyprus or an introduction from a location in which CTV is relatively diverse. Some of the isolates induced stem pitting on branches of grapefruit and sweet orange. Such isolates have not been noted often in the Mediterranean basin. They were close in CP sequence to isolate B249 from Venezuela, which induces stem pitting, and are of particular concern for the whole region.