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The Symptom and Genetic Diversity of Cassava Brown Streak Viruses Infecting Cassava in East Africa

DOI: 10.1155/2012/795697

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The genetic and symptom diversity of six virus isolates causing cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) in the endemic (Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania) and the recently affected epidemic areas (Uganda) of eastern Africa was studied. Five cassava varieties; Albert, Colombian, Ebwanateraka, TMS60444 (all susceptible) and Kiroba (tolerant) were graft inoculated with each isolate. Based on a number of parameters including the severity of leaf and root symptoms, and the extent of virus transmission by grafting, the viruses were classified as either severe or relatively mild. These results were further confirmed by the mechanical inoculation of 13 herbaceous hosts in which the virulent isolates caused plant death in Nicotiana clevelandii and N. benthamiana whereas the milder isolates did not. Phylogenetic analysis of complete coat protein gene sequences of these isolates together with sequences obtained from 14 other field-collected samples from Kenya and Zanzibar, and reference sequences grouped them into two distinct clusters, representing the two species of cassava brown streak viruses. Put together, these results did not suggest the association of a hypervirulent form of the virus with the current CBSD epidemic in Uganda. Identification of the severe and milder isolates, however, has further implications for disease management and quarantine requirements. 1. Introduction Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) is endemic in areas along the Indian Ocean coast of eastern Africa, from the northeastern border of Kenya across the Tanzanian border down as far as the Zambezi River in Mozambique, and it was widespread around the shore of Lake Malawi. In the endemic areas, CBSD was confined to altitudes below 1,000 metres above sea level [1–3]. More recently, CBSD has been reported at midaltitude levels (1200–1500 meters above sea levels) in Democratic Republic Congo [4], Uganda [5], and the Lake zone areas of Tanzania [6, 7], which were not considered to be at risk by the disease previously. This is a serious concern because the disease incidences of up to 100% were recorded [8], and in sensitive varieties the disease causes rotting of tubers, reducing both the quality and quantity of tubers available for consumption [1, 2, 9]. A moderate infection by CBSD (10–30% damage to root surface area) decreases the market value of cassava tubers drastically by 90%, fetching under US $5 per tonne, as opposed to $55 for fresh healthy cassava root [10]. Severely diseased roots are completely destroyed and unfit for market or family use. Recent estimates indicate that CBSD causes


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