Sequencing and assembly of small RNAs reveal the presence of several begomoviruses, potyviruses, badnaviruses and mastreviruses in the sweet potato leaf virome in Barbados

  • Angela T. AlleyneEmail author
  • Cara Cummins
  • Kherie Rowe
  • Michael James
  • Dina L. Gutiérrez
  • Segundo Fuentes
Original Article


Sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam] is increasingly becoming an important food and industrial crop worldwide that is affected by over thirty viruses belonging to different virus families. Little is known about these viruses on the many local and commercial sweet potato cultivars in the Caribbean, including Barbados. Therefore, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and small RNA sequencing and assembly (sRSA) were used to detect viruses in the sweet potato leaf virome in Barbados. The viruses detected by sRSA were mainly from two virus families in sweet potato: Geminiviridae (genus Begomovirus) and Caulimoviridae (genus Badnavirus). Together, these viruses accounted for more than 75% of the virus contigs found in the sweet potato leaf virome in Barbados. Although sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV, genus Potyvirus, family Potyviridae) was frequently detected by PCR in infected leaf samples, only 10% of the sequenced contigs matched to these viruses in the leaf virome. The results suggest the absence of the sweet potato virus disease complex (SPVD) in Barbados but reveal possibly new, severe single virus infections or emerging virus associations in the virome largely composed of begomoviruses, badnaviruses, potyviruses and mastreviruses previously unreported in sweet potato in the Caribbean.


Sweet potato Sweepovirus sRSA RNAseq 



This work was funded with support from The University of the West Indies and The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF), Plant Pathology Unit, Barbados. We also acknowledge the support provided by Carol Thomas of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Barbados. We also thank those farmers who provided access to their fields for sample collection in Barbados. We thank Jan Kreuze for a critical review and suggestions to improve the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Patologia Vegetale (S.I.Pa.V.) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Biological and Chemical SciencesThe University of the West Indies, Cave Hill CampusBridgetownBarbados
  2. 2.Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Plant Pathology SectionGraeme HallBarbados
  3. 3.Virology LaboratoryInternational Potato Center (CIP)LimaPeru

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