Tomato leaf curl disease (ToLCD) has emerged as a major constraint on tomato production in some parts of West Africa. In this study, begomoviruses associated with ToLCD in Togo and Nigeria were characterized, as well as a betasatellite associated with the disease in Togo. The genome organization of both viruses is typical of Old World monopartite begomoviruses. Sequence analysis revealed that the begomovirus from Togo is a variant of tomato leaf curl Kumasi virus (ToLCKuV) from Ghana, and it is designated ToLCKuV-[Togo:Pagouda:2006] (ToLCKuV-[TG:Pag:06]). The begomovirus from Nigeria has a recombinant genome, composed of sequences of ToLCKuV (major parent) and a cotton leaf curl Gezira virus (CLCuGV)-like virus, and possesses an unusual non-reiterated replication-associated protein (Rep) binding site. Moreover, because the sequence has >89% identity with those of previously characterized begomoviruses, it is a new species and is designated tomato leaf curl Nigeria virus-[Nigeria:Odogbo:2006] (ToLCNGV-[NG:Odo:06]). The cloned DNAs of ToLCKuV-TG and ToLCNGV were infectious and induced leaf curl symptoms in tomato plants, but ToLCNGV was comparatively more virulent. Both viruses also induced stunted growth and leaf curl symptoms in other solanaceous species (various Nicotiana spp. and Datura stramonium), whereas ToLCNGV but not ToLCKuV-TG induced symptoms in common bean plants. The betasatellite associated with ToLCD in Togo is genetically distinct (i. e., >78% nucleotide sequence identity with previously identified betasatellites) and is designated tomato leaf curl Togo betasatellite-[Togo:Pagouda:2006] (ToLCTGB-[TG:Pag:06]). Replication and systemic spread of ToLCTGB in tomato was mediated by ToLCKuV-TG and ToLCNGV; however, the betasatellite had no effect on disease symptoms induced by either begomovirus. In contrast, ToLCTGB increased symptom severity induced by both viruses in Nicotiana spp. and D. stramonium. Thus, although ToLCTGB increased symptom severity in a host-dependent manner, it does not appear to play a role in ToLCD and may have been present with ToLCKuV-TG as a reassortant.
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