Arch Virol (2001) 146: 415–441
The emergence and dissemination of whiteﬂy-transmitted
geminiviruses in Latin America
F. J. Morales and P. K. Anderson
International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Cali, Colombia
Accepted July 5, 2000
Summary. The proliferation and rapid dissemination of whiteﬂy-transmitted
viruses of important food and industrial crops in Latin America, have been the
consequence of drastic changes in traditional cropping systems. Some of the ex-
panding non-traditional cash and export crops, such as soybean and several veg-
etables, have served as suitable reproductive hosts for the whiteﬂy Bemisia tabaci.
This insect pest has been shown to transmit at least 20 different geminiviruses that
affect different commercial and basic food crops in Latin America. This review
summarizes the existing knowledge on this important group of viruses and their
vector in this region.
Whiteﬂy-transmitted geminiviruses cause signiﬁcant, and often total yield losses
of important food and industrial crops in tropical and subtropical agroecosystems
around the world [10, 17, 34, 57, 86]. The global distributionof this group of gem-
iniviruses is closely related to the pantropical dissemination of their polyphagous
whiteﬂy vector, Bemisia tabaci Genn. It is estimated that this whiteﬂy species has
over 500 different plant hosts worldwide .
In theglobal context,Latin America has been the most affected regionin terms
of total number of whiteﬂy-borne geminiviruses, number of crops affected, yield
losses, and agricultural area devastated by these pathogens. At present, over ﬁve
million hectares of prime agricultural land in twenty countries are under attack
from more than 30 distinct geminiviruses (Fig. 1). Interestingly, geminiviruses
and B. tabaci previously co-existed in Latin America for many decades, without
affecting cultivated plant species.
This review examines the history and evolution of geminiviruses and their
whiteﬂy vectors in tropical America, and discusses the extraneous factors that led