Frequent migration of introduced cucurbit-infecting begomoviruses among Middle Eastern countries

Lapidot M., Dana Gelbart, A. Gal-On, Ghandi Anfoka, Fatima Haj Ahmed, Yusef Abou-Jawada, Hana Soboh, Hamed Mazaya, Aboul-Ata E. Aboul-Ata, Ahmed Kamal El-Attar, Mohammed S. Ali-Shtayeh, Rana M. Jamous, Jane E. Polston, Siobain Duffy.
Journal Name
Virology Journal
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Background In the early 2000s, two cucurbit-infecting begomoviruses were introduced into the eastern Mediterranean basin: the Old World Squash leaf curl virus (SLCV) and the New World Watermelon chlorotic stunt virus (WmCSV). These viruses have been emerging in parallel over the last decade in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. Methods We explored this unique situation by assessing the diversity and biogeography of the DNA-A component of SLCV and WmCSV in these five countries. Results There was fairly low sequence variation in both begomovirus species (SLCV π = 0.0077; WmCSV π = 0.0066). Both viruses may have been introduced only once into the eastern Mediterranean basin, but once established, these viruses readily moved across country boundaries. SLCV has been introduced at least twice into each of all five countries based on the absence of monophyletic clades. Similarly, WmCSV has been introduced multiple times into Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Conclusions We predict that uncontrolled movement of whiteflies among countries in this region will continue to cause SLCV and WmCSV migration, preventing strong genetic differentiation of these viruses among these countries.