Persistent infection and promiscuous recombination of multiple genotypes of an RNA virus within a single host generate extensive diversity

Ziming Weng, Roger Barthelson, Siddarame Gowda, Mark E. Hilf, William O. Dawson, David W. Galbraith, Zhongguo Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Recombination and reassortment of viral genomes are major processes contributing to the creation of new, emerging viruses. These processes are especially significant in long-term persistent infections where multiple viral genotypes co-replicate in a single host, generating abundant genotypic variants, some of which may possess novel host-colonizing and pathogenicity traits. In some plants, successive vegetative propagation of infected tissues and introduction of new genotypes of a virus by vector transmission allows for viral, populations to increase in complexity for hundreds of years allowing co-replication and subsequent recombination of the multiple viral genotypes. Using a resequencing microarray, we examined a persistent infection by a Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) complex in citrus, a vegetatively propagated, globally important fruit crop, and found that the complex comprised three major and a number of minor genotypes. Subsequent deep sequencing analysis of the viral population confirmed the presence of the three major CTV genotypes and, in addition, revealed that the minor genotypes consisted of an extraordinarily large number of genetic variants generated by promiscuous recombination between the major genotypes. Further analysis provided evidence that some of the recombinants underwent subsequent divergence, further increasing the genotypic complexity. These data demonstrate that persistent infection of multiple viral genotypes within a host organism is sufficient to drive the large-scale production of viral genetic variants that may evolve into new and emerging viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere917
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 19 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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