Many potyviruses have been found in Australia. We analyzed a selected region of the coat protein genes of 37 of them to determine their relationships, and found that they fall into two groups. Half were isolated from cultivated plants and crops, and are also found in other parts of the world. Sequence comparisons show that the Australian populations of these viruses are closely related to, but less variable than, those in other parts of the world, and they represent many different potyvirus lineages. The other half of the potyviruses have only been found in Australia, and most were isolated from native plants. The sequences of these potyviruses, which are probably endemic, are on average five times more variable than those of the crop potyviruses, but surprisingly, most of the endemic potyviruses belong to one potyvirus lineage, the bean common mosaic virus lineage. We conclude that the crop potyviruses entered Australia after agriculture was established by European migrants two centuries ago, whereas the endemic plant potyviruses probably entered Australia before the Europeans. Australia, like the U.K., seems recently to have had c. one incursion of a significant crop potyvirus every decade. Our analysis suggests it is likely that potyviruses are transmitted in seed more frequently than experimental evidence indicates, and shows that understanding the sources of emerging pathogens and the frequency with which they ‘emerge’ is essential for proper national biosecurity planning.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 1, 2008
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