First Report of Apricot vein clearing-associated virus Infecting flowering apricot (Prunus mume) in the United States

Plant Dis. 2021 Feb 25. doi: 10.1094/PDIS-10-20-2267-PDN. Online ahead of print.


Apricot vein clearing-associated virus is the type species of genus Prunevirus, family Betaflexiviridae. The virus was first discovered from an Italian apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca) showing leaf vein clearing and mottling symptoms (Elbeaino et al. 2014). Since then, apricot vein clearing-associated virus (AVCaV) has been reported in symptomatic and asymptomatic plants from other countries (Marais et al. 2015; Kinoti et al. 2017; Kubaa et al. 2014). In 2018, a domestic selection of a flowering apricot (P. mume cv. Peggy Clarke) (PC01) with no discernible foliar virus-like symptoms was received for inclusion in the Foundation Plant Services (UC-Davis) collection. The plant originated from a private Prunus collection located in California. Total nucleic acids (TNA) were isolated from PC01 leaves using MagMax Plant RNA Isolation Kit (Thermo Fisher Scientific). The TNA were analyzed for a panel of 15 Prunus-infecting viruses by reverse-transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) (Diaz-Lara et al. 2020). In addition, to screen for sap-transmissible viruses, young leaves of PC01 were homogenized in inoculation buffer and were rubbed onto leaves of herbaceous indicator plants, Chenopodium amaranticolor, C. quinoa, Cucumis sativus, and Nicotiana clevelandii (Rowhani et al. 2005). The source PC01 tested negative for the 15 screened viruses. Interestingly, vein clearing symptoms were observed on leaves of C. quinoa and C. amaranticolor plants (Figure S1). These results suggested the presence of a mechanically transmissible virus in PC01. To determine the identity of mechanically transmissible viral agent, symptomatic C. quinoa and PC01 plant were advanced for high throughput sequencing analysis. Aliquots of TNA from PC01 and C. quinoa were rRNA-depleted and used for cDNA library preparation with TruSeq Stranded Total RNA kit (Illumina). The raw reads were trimmed, de novo assembled, and subsequently were annotated using tBLASTx algorithm (Al Rwahnih et al. 2018). A total of 47,261,138 and 8,812,296 single-end reads were obtained from cDNA libraries of PC01 and C. quinoa, respectively. The de novo assembly generated near-complete contigs resembling AVCaV genome ) from both PC01 and C. quinoa, which were 99.8% identical at the nucleotide level. The longest contig (8,342 nucleotides, 73.5x coverage depth) obtained from PC01 was further completed using SMARTer RACE 5'/3' kit (Takara Bio). The complete genome sequence of AVCaV-PC01 is 8,364 nucleotides long (GenBank: MK170158). The full-length virus genome was compared with GenBank database using BLASTn, which the best hit corresponded to KY132099 with 98% identity. Additionally, AVCaV infection was confirmed in both PC01 selection and the symptomatic C. quinoa by RT-PCR as previously described (Marais et al. 2015). Lastly, symptomatic leaves of C. quinoa were used in leaf dip method to visualize virus particles by transmission electron microscope. As a result, flexuous rod-shaped virions were observed from leaf dips of symptomatic C. quinoa plants (Figure S2). Therefore, our results represent the first report of AVCaV in California, USA. Furthermore, mechanical transmission of an AVCaV isolate infecting flowering apricot to herbaceous hosts was confirmed. Field surveys and biological studies are underway to determine the prevalence of AVCaV in commercial orchards and assess its effect on tree performance.

Keywords: AVCaV; Causal Agent; Flowering apricot; Viruses and viroids.