Mutation rate in Velvet tobacco mottle virus varies between genomic region and virus variant but is not influenced by obligatory mirid transmission
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Genomic mutation in plant viruses of cultivated plants is known to be influenced by virus, host and vector, but the factors influencing mutation in viruses of native plants in natural ecosystems are rarely studied. We have tested the effect of mode of transmission on mutation in Velvet tobacco mottle virus (VTMoV), a mirid-vectored sobemovirus associated with Nicotiana velutina, an Australian native xerophyte growing in a region isolated from anthropogenic influences. Two variants of VTMoV (K1 and R17) were passaged monthly in the alternative experimental plant host, N. clevelandii, for 2 years, either by mechanical inoculation or by transmission with the mirid Cyrtopeltisnicotianae. Sequence variations were scored after 24 passages in regions of the genome containing the open reading frames (ORFs) for the P1 and coat protein (CP). The mean mutation rate was 6.83 × 10−4 nt/site year, but a higher overall rate was observed for the K1 (satellite −) than the R17 (satellite +) variant. The P1 ORF showed a higher frequency of non-synonymous mutations than the CP. No clear association was found between either mutation site or mutation rate and the mode of transmission, indicating that obligatory mirid transmission had not exerted a specific bottle-neck effect on sequence variation during the experimental time frame. Failure to detect any sequence motifs linked to vector transmission suggests that a specific capsid-stylet interaction is not required for transmission by mirids.
KeywordsCyrtopeltisnicotianae Mirid transmission Native plant virus Sobemovirus Velvet tobacco mottle virus Virus mutation rate
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