Molecular analysis suggests that recent Citrus tristeza virus outbreaks in Italy were originated by at least two independent introductions
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Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) is the causal agent of the most important virus disease of citrus. Numerous CTV isolates differing in biological and molecular characteristics have been reported worldwide. Recently, CTV was detected in Italy in several citrus crops from three separate areas: (1) Cassibile, province of Syracuse; (2) Massafra, province of Taranto; and (3) Belpasso, province of Catania. CTV isolates from Massafra and Cassibile were mild, whereas isolates from Belpasso induced severe symptoms. To study the genetic variation of CTV populations of these areas, 150 samples per area were examined by single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and nucleotide sequence analysis of CTV gene p20. All isolates from the same area showed the same SSCP pattern whereas for each area a different SSCP pattern was obtained. The Massafra and the Cassibile isolates had a nucleotide identity higher than 99% with a mild isolate from Spain and about 92% with the Belpasso isolates, which were similar (identity higher than 99%) to severe isolates from California and Japan. These results suggest at least two independent introductions of CTV in Italy, probably by import of CTV-infected budwoods. Within each area, the virus population was homogeneous suggesting diffusion of CTV by aphid transmission.
Keywordsphylogenetic analysis SSCP
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