The westward journey of alfalfa leaf curl virus
Harkins, Gordon W.
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Alfalfa leaf curl virus (ALCV), which causes severe disease symptoms in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and is transmitted by the widespread aphid species, Aphis craccivora Koch, has been found throughout the Mediterranean basin as well as in Iran and Argentina. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of ALCV and attempt to determine whether the recent discovery and widespread detection of ALCV is attributable either to past diagnostic biases or to the emergence and global spread of the virus over the past few years. One hundred and twenty ALCV complete genome sequences recovered from ten countries were analyzed and four ALCV genotypes (ALCV-A, ALCV-B, ALCV-C, and ALCV-D) were clearly distinguished. We further confirm that ALCV isolates are highly recombinogenic and that recombination has been a major determinant in the origins of the various genotypes. Collectively, the sequence data support the hypothesis that, of all the analyzed locations, ALCV likely emerged and diversified in the Middle East before spreading to the western Mediterranean basin and Argentina.