Virus Genes

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Molecular analysis of maize (Zea mays L.)-infecting mastreviruses in Ethiopia reveals marked diversity of virus genomes and a novel species

  • Demsachew GuadieEmail author
  • Kassahun Tesfaye
  • Dennis Knierim
  • Stephan Winter
  • Adane Abraham


Maize (Zea mays L.) is host for more than 50 virus species worldwide with Maize streak virus (MSV) (genus Mastrevirus) causing significant yield losses in Africa. A survey for viruses infecting maize was conducted in major growing regions of Ethiopia. To test for DNA viruses, in particular mastreviruses, rolling circle amplification was performed for the analysis of virus composition in assayed samples. Following the analysis of the entire virus genomes, three genetic groups, each representing distinct virus species, were identified. The first group was almost identical with the A-strain of MSV. The next sequence-cluster shared 96–98% identity with isolates of Maize streak reunion virus (MSRV) confirming the presence of this virus also in continental East Africa. Sequence analysis of additional virus genomes (each 2846 nt) in length revealed only a limited 70–71% nt identity with MSRV isolates and an even lower identity (< 64%) with sequences of mastreviruses described elsewhere. Our analysis suggests a novel virus species, which is tentatively named maize streak dwarfing virus (MSDV). The pairwise comparison of capsid protein and replication-associated protein (Rep) of the novel species revealed a limited identity of 63% and 68% with the respective protein sequences of MSRV. The incidence of the virus species in the maize regions of Ethiopia was studied across 89 samples collected during four growing seasons. PCR analysis with general and specific mastrevirus primers showed that MSV is the most incident virus (39.3%) followed by MSRV (14.6%) and MSDV (12.4%). Identification of three different mastrevirus species in a confined geographical location on the same host, maize, is unprecedented, and suggests that Ethiopia may be one of the potential hot spots for diversity of maize-infecting mastreviruses.


Diversity Incidence Maize Mastrevirus Screening 



This research was partly supported by funds from the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (formerly Ministry of Science and Technology), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) In-country/In-region scholarship program, and the Addis Ababa University.

Author contributions

DG, AA, KT, SW, and DK conceived and designed the study. DG, AA, and KT collected the samples. DG and DK carried out the experiments. DG and DK performed the data analysis. DG wrote the first draft. AA, KT, SW, and DK reviewed and edited the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors (D. Guadie, K. Tesfaye, D. Knierim, S. Winter, A. Abraham) declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any study with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11262_2019_1655_MOESM1_ESM.docx (126 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 126 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019
corrected publication 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BiotechnologyAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell CulturesBrunswickGermany
  3. 3.Department of BiotechnologyAddis Ababa Science and Technology UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  4. 4.Ethiopian Biotechnology InstituteMinistry of Innovation and TechnologyAddis AbabaEthiopia

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