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. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-94
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Convolvulaceae
  • Geminiviridae
  • Solanaceae
  • Whitefly-transmitted viruses
  • Wild host species
  • ssDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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