Genetic Connectivity Between Papaya Ringspot Virus Genomes from Papua New Guinea and Northern Australia, and New Recombination Insights

Solomon Maina, Martin J. Barbetti, Owain R. Edwards, David Minemba, Michael W. Areke, Roger A. C. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Isolates of papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) were obtained from plants of pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.) or cucumber (Cucumis sativus) showing mosaic symptoms growing at Zage in Goroka District in the Eastern Highland Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) or Bagl in the Mount Hagen District, Western Highlands Province. The samples were sent to Australia on FTA cards where they were subjected to High Throughput Sequencing (HTS). When the coding regions of the six new PRSV genomic sequences obtained via HTS were compared with those of 54 other complete PRSV sequences from other parts of the world, all six grouped together with the 12 northern Australian sequences within major phylogroup B minor phylogroup I, the Australian sequences coming from three widely dispersed locations spanning the north of the continent. Notably, none of the PNG isolates grouped with genomic sequences from the nearby country of East Timor in phylogroup A. The closest genetic match between Australian and PNG sequences was a nucleotide (nt) sequence identity of 96.9%, whereas between PNG and East Timorese isolates it was only 83.1%. These phylogenetic and nt identity findings demonstrate genetic connectivity between PRSV populations from PNG and Australia. Recombination analysis of the 60 PRSV sequences available revealed evidence of 26 recombination events within 18 isolates, only four of which were within major phylogroup B and none of which were from PNG or Australia. Within the recombinant genomes, the P1, CI, NIa-Pro, NIb, 6K2, and 5'UTR regions contained the highest numbers of recombination breakpoints. After removal of nonrecombinant sequences, four minor phylogroups were lost (IV, VII, VIII, XV), only one of which was in phylogroup B. When genome regions from which recombinationally derived tracts of sequence were removed from recombinants prior to alignment with nonrecombinant genomes, seven previous minor phylogroups within major phylogroup A, and two within major phylogroup B, merged either partially or entirely forming four merged minor phylogroups. The genetic connectivity between PNG and northern Australian isolates and absence of detectable recombination within either group suggests that PRSV isolates from East Timor, rather than PNG, might pose a biosecurity threat to northern Australian agriculture should they prove more virulent than those already present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-747
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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