First Report of Watermelon Mosaic Virus Naturally Infecting Coriander ( Coriandrum sativum) and causing a leaf mottling disease in California

Plant Dis. 2022 Sep 21. doi: 10.1094/PDIS-05-22-1184-PDN. Online ahead of print.


Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV, genus Potyvirus, family Potyviridae) is a species of considerable economic importance to cucurbit crops worldwide (Keinath et al. 2017). This virus has a wide host range that includes more than 170 plant species from 27 families (Dong et al. 2017; Lecoq et al. 2011). In 2018, leaves of coriander (Coriandrum sativum) plants in a student garden (C-SG) at UC Davis, and in a home garden in Davis, CA (C-Pet) (~1.1 miles apart) showed symptoms of light green mottling and crumpling. Symptomatic leaves from each location were weakly positive with the general potyvirus immunostrip test (Agdia, Elkhart, IN). In RT-PCR tests with total RNA extracts (RNeasy Plant Mini Kit Qiagen, Germantown, MD) of these leaves and the potyvirus degenerate primer pair CIFor/CIRev (Ha et al. 2008), the expected-size ~0.7 kb fragment was amplified. These fragments were gel-purified and sequenced, and a BLASTn search revealed highest identities of 91.6% (C-SG) and 97.9% (C-Pet) with the sequence of an isolate of WMV from watermelon in the U.S. (TX29, KU246036). Thus, these isolates are designated WMV-C-SG-18 and WMV-C-Pet-18. Mechanical inoculation experiments were next performed with sap prepared with symptomatic coriander leaf tissue in ice-cold 0.01 M phosphate buffer (pH 7.0) in a 1:4 wt/vol ratio. First, to obtain pure isolates, sap was inoculated onto celite-dusted leaves of Chenopodium quinoa plants (3-4 leaf stage). As expected for WMV, leaves inoculated with sap of each isolate developed chlorotic local lesions ~9 d post-inoculation (dpi) (Moreno et al. 2004). One lesion for each isolate was excised, ground in phosphate buffer, and the sap was mechanically inoculated onto leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana plants. By ~14 dpi, newly emerged leaves showed mild mottling and crumpling, and were weakly positive with the potyvirus immunostrip test. To confirm that these plants were only infected with WMV, total RNA was extracted from symptomatic leaves and used for high throughput sequencing (HTS) (Soltani et al. 2021) at the Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis. The HTS analyses revealed infection with only WMV, i.e., no other viral contigs were identified, and allowed for determination of the complete sequences (~10,000 nt) of WMV [US-CA-C-SG-18] and WMV [US-CA-C-Pet-18] with GenBank accession numbers: OM746964 and OM746965, respectively. Whole genome sequence comparisons revealed that the sequences are 99.0% identical, and 97.3% identical to the sequence of WMV TX29. Sap from symptomatic N. benthamiana leaves infected with each isolate was mechanical inoculated onto leaves of coriander plants (30-35 d old). Newly emerged leaves developed epinasty, crumpling and light green mottling by 14 dpi, and WMV infection was confirmed by RT-PCR with the WMV-specific primer pair WMV-UNI-1F and WMV-UNI-1R (Kim et al. 2019). Thus, Koch's postulates were fulfilled for this leaf mottling disease of coriander. Furthermore, the isolates from coriander induced stunting and distortion and mosaic in leaves of melon, pumpkin and squash plants by 7 dpi, whereas watermelon plants developed stunting and small leaves with mild mottling by 20 dpi. Similar results were obtained with sap prepared from infected coriander leaves. Thus, infected coriander plants are a potential inoculum source for cucurbits via several aphid vectors (Keinath et al. 2017). This is the first report of a mottle disease of coriander caused by WMV, and adds to the wide host range of the virus.

Keywords: Causal Agent; Crop Type; Etiology; Subject Areas; Vegetables; Viruses and viroids.