In 1998, cassava plants exhibiting extremely mild mosaic disease symptoms were collected from Uguja Island, Zanzibar. Total DNAs extracted from symptomatic leaves did not produce diagnostic PCR bands using primers specific to known Cassava mosaic viruses (genus Begomovirus, family Geminiviridae) (2). Degenerate primer pair A/B (1), however, produced a 564-nucleotide (nt) band in the common region of DNA-A to the conserved amino acid sequence CEGPCKYG within the coat protein gene for begomoviruses. Virus-specific primers were designed and the begomoviral genome was amplified and cloned to obtain the full-length DNA-A (2,785 nt) (AF422174) and the partial DNA-B (2,403 nt) (AF422175) component comprising the 5′ end of the BV1 open reading frame (ORF) to eight (A) of the conserved nanonucleotide TAATATTAC in the common region. Phylogenetic comparisons of DNA-A and -B sequences of the cassava begomivirus showed they were most closely related to East African cassava mosaic virus (EACMV) from Tanzania (Z83256, 83% identity) and Uganda (AF126805, 87% identity). Based on DNA-A and -B components, its closest relatives among African cassava mosaic virus strains were the Nigerian (X17095, 67% identity) and Ugandan (AF126800, 38% identity) isolates respectively. The number and arrangement of the viral ORF was identical to other bipartite begomoviruses from the Old World. Work is in progress to determine whether this begomovirus is a new strain of an existing EACMV or a new species.
Maruthi, M.N.; Colvin, J.; Seal, S.; Thresh, J.M. First Report of a Distinct Begomovirus Infecting Cassava from Zanzibar. Plant Disease (2002) 86 (2) 187. [DOI: 10.1094/PDIS.2002.86.2.187A]