A study of the strain evolution and recombination of South African isolates of Potato virus Y

Visser, Johan Christiaan (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Potato virus Y (PVY) is responsible for considerable yield losses in the South African potato industry. The incidence of this virus has greatly increased over the past 20 years. In previous studies nonrecombinant strains of PVY, PVY N and PVY O, were detected in South African potatoes. In a recent study the occurrence of non-recombinant strains of PVY in South African potatoes was shown to have decreased while infection by more virulent recombinant strains, PVY NTN and PVY N-W, had increased dramatically. Infection of potato plants with PVY may cause stunted growth and mosaic or necrotic leaf symptoms which in turn can lead to a significant reduction in yield. Highly virulent recombinant PVY isolates as well as some of the non-recombinant strains may cause potato tuber necrotic ringspot disease (PTNRD) which may result in losses of 10% to total crop failure. For this reason investigation of infection by local recombinant isolates on local cultivars was important. To this end a representative number of isolates were selected for whole genome sequencing based on the relative occurrence of the various isolates in South Africa. A number of these sequenced isolates were subsequently used to infect local cultivars of potato in order to investigate the influence of genetic variation within the viral genome on symptom expression. In this study 27 South African isolates of PVY were sequenced through overlapping RT-PCR fragments. Seven of these isolates, six PVY NTN and one PVY N-W, were used to mechanically infect four local cultivars of potatoes under greenhouse conditions. The infected plants were monitored to establish the rate of systemic spread using a highly sensitive qRT-PCR and resulting tubers were visually screened for PTNRD. Highly variable recombinant isolates appear to be less virulent than the more conserved recombinant isolates possibly indicating molecular determinants for pathogenicity. For this reason the amino acid sequences of the South African isolates were compared to those of international isolates and scrutinized for variation and substitutions. Some South African isolates displayed amino acid substitutions unique to the specific isolate, making them unlike those found internationally. Substitution rates throughout the amino acid sequences differed greatly, with some isolates displaying hardly any changes whilst others varied a great deal from overseas isolates. Certain regions, many of which had specific functions, were more conserved than others. This study further investigated the recombination events within the PVY genome using reticulate phylogenetic analysis, molecular dating and network construction techniques. Unlike existing approaches, the one described in this study neither assumes an underlying strictly bifurcating species tree nor assumes prior knowledge of processes underlying deviations between individual gene trees. Through the use of the resulting robust time calibrated phylogeny, the patterns of diversification and recombination in PVY may be placed in the historical context of human cultivation of potatoes. Through the use of these techniques the study aimed to test whether diversification of the major strains of PVY and recombination between them occurred within the time frame of the domestication and modern cultivation of potatoes. From these analyses it can be deduced that recombinant strains of PVY were imported into South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Aartappel virus Y (PVY) is verantwoordelik vir aansienlike opbrengs verliese in die Suid-Afrikaanse aartappelbedryf. Die voorkoms van die virus het grootliks toegeneem oor die afgelope 20 jaar. In vorige studies is nie-rekombinante rasse van PVY, PVY N en PVY O, gedokumenteer in Suid-Afrikaanse aartappels. 'n Onlangse studie het gevind dat die voorkoms van nie-rekombinante rasse van PVY in Suid- Afrikaanse aartappels aansienlik gedaal het terwyl infeksie deur virulente rekombinante rasse, PVY NTN en PVY N-W, dramaties toegeneem het. Infeksie van aartappelplante met PVY kan vertraagde groei en mosaïek- of nekrotiese blaarsimptome veroorsaak wat kan lei tot aansienlike vermindering in opbrengs. Hoogs virulente rekombinante PVY isolate, sowel as sommige nie-rekombinante rasse, kan aartappel nekrotiese ring simptome (PTNRD) veroorsaak wat verliese van 10% tot totale misoes tot gevolg kan hê. Om hierdie rede was die ondersoek van infeksie deur plaaslike rekombinante isolate op plaaslike kultivare belangrik. Vir hierdie doel is 'n verteenwoordigende aantal isolate gekies, gebaseer op die relatiewe voorkoms daarvan in Suid-Afrika, vir heelgenoom-volgordebepaling. Van die isolate is vervolgens gebruik om plaaslike kultivare te besmet ten einde die invloed van genetiese variasie binne die virale genoom op simptoom uitdrukking te ondersoek. In hierdie studie is 27 heelgenoomvolgordes van Suid-Afrikaanse PVY isolate bepaal deur oorvleuelende RT-PCR fragmente. Sewe van hierdie isolate, ses PVY NTN en een PVY N-W, is gebruik om vier plaaslike aartappel kultivare, gegroei onder kweekhuis kondisies, meganies te infekteer. Die geïnfekteerde plante is gemonitor om die tempo van sistemiese verspreiding vas te stel deur middel van 'n hoogs sensitiewe qRTPCR en knolle is visueel inspekteer vir PTNRD. Hoogs variante rekombinante isolate blyk om minder virulent te wees as die meer bewaarde rekombinante isolate wat dui op molekulêre determinante van patogenisiteit. Om hierdie rede is die aminosuurvolgordes van die Suid-Afrikaanse isolate vergelyk met die van internasionale isolate en ondersoek vir variasie en substitusies. Sommige Suid-Afrikaanse isolate vertoon aminosuur substitusies wat uniek is tot die spesifieke isolaat en maak hul dus anders as internasionale isolate. Die aantal aminosuursubstitusies in die volgordes verskil grootliks. In vergelyking met internasionale isolate toon sommige isolate skaars enige veranderinge terwyl ander ‘n aantal verskille toon. Sekere gebiede, waarvan baie spesifieke funksies het, was meer gekonserveerd as ander. Hierdie studie ondersoek ook rekombinasie gebeure binne die PVY genoom deur retikulêre filogenetiese analise, molekulêre datering en netwerk konstruksie tegnieke. In teenstelling met bestaande benaderinge, aanvaar die tegniek wat hier beskryf word nie ‘n streng bifurkeerende filogenie, wat onderliggende verdeel, of enige voorafgaande kennis van die prosesse onderliggend aan afwykings tussen individuele filogenieë nie. ‘n Robuuste, tyd gekalibreer filogenie kan diversifikasie patrone en rekombinasie van PVY plaas in die historiese konteks van menslike verbouing van aartappels. Deur gebruik te maak van hierdie tegnieke poog die studie om te toets of diversifikasie en rekombinasie van PVY rasse plaasgevind het binne die tydsbestek van die inburgering en moderne verbouing van aartappels. Van hierdie ontledinge word afgelei dat rekombinante rasse van PVY wat in Suid-Afrika voorkom, ingevoer is.

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