, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 84–94 | Cite as

Minimal genomic variability in Merremia mosaic virus isolates endemic in Merremia spp and cultivated tomato in Puerto Rico

  • Ali M. Idris
  • M. A. Al-Saleh
  • A. M Zakri
  • J. K. BrownEmail author
Original Article


Merremia mosaic virus (MerMV), a bipartite begomovirus, was identified for the first time as a pathogen of commercial tomato plantings. Infection of tomato by MerMV caused mild leaf curling and yellow foliar mosaic symptoms. Herein, the MerMV was identified in symptomatic Merremia quinquefolia and M. aegyptia (Convolvulaceae) plants exhibiting bright yellow or yellow-green foliar mosaic symptoms, respectively. The full-length begomoviral components were amplified from total DNA isolated from two wild species of Merremia and commercial tomato plants during 1991–1998. The DNA was subjected to rolling circle amplification, restriction digestion, and DNA sequencing. The resultant 19 and 26 apparently full-length DNA-A and DNA-B components were ~ 2557 and ~ 2492 bases, respectively. The 140-base common region was 97.9% identical between DNA-A and -B components, a predictive evidence for cognate DNA-A and -B components. Although the DNA-A components were highly conserved at 96–100%, the DNA-B components diverged at ~ 89 to 100%, respectively. The overall clonal genomic features strongly suggested that MerMV lineage has been under host-selection for some time, and only recently, has undergone a host-shift, putatively, from wild convolvulaceous species to tomato (Solanaceae). Phylogenetically, MerMV grouped with other bipartite begomoviruses indigenous to the Caribbean region, with MerMV DNA-A components forming three clusters, and the DNA-B components grouped in one clade. Both clades contained only one closet relative, an isolate of MerMV from Venezuela, MerMV-VE. Biolistic inoculation of M. quinquefolia and tomato seedlings with the DNA-A and -B components of PR68 and PR80 resulted in development of symptoms like those observed in naturally-infected species, respectively.


Convolvulaceae Solanaceae Geminiviridae ssDNA Wild host species Whitefly-transmitted viruses 



This publication is dedicated to the memory of our esteemed colleague, collaborator, and friend Dr. Julio Bird-Pinero, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, who passed away June 29, 2012. His contributions span the discovery and characterization of the first begomoviruses studied from the Caribbean region, long before the establishment of the Begomovirus genus, development of the concept of ‘host races’ of Bemisia tabaci based on distinct phenotypic characteristics, including host range and begomovirus transmission, and his pioneering work into the etiology of sugarcane diseases in the Caribbean region, among many others.This project was funded by HATCH funds awarded to the University of Puerto Rico and/or the University of Arizona during 1998-present. This project was funded by the National Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation (MAARIFAH), King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Award No. BIO2833.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 136 kb)


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Copyright information

© Indian Virological Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali M. Idris
    • 1
  • M. A. Al-Saleh
    • 2
  • A. M Zakri
    • 2
  • J. K. Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Plant SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Plant Protection DepartmentKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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