African Basil (Ocimum gratissimum) Is a Reservoir of Divergent Begomoviruses in Uganda
Mollel, Happyness G.
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Begomoviruses are plant viruses that cause major losses to many economically important crops. Although they are poorly understood, begomoviruses infecting wild plants may have an important role as reservoirs in the epidemiology of viral diseases. This study reports the discovery and genomic characterization of three novel bipartite begomoviruses from wild and cultivated African basil (Ocimum gratissimum) plants collected in Uganda, East Africa. Based on the symptoms shown by the infected plants, the names proposed for these viruses are Ocimum yellow vein virus (OcYVV), Ocimum mosaic virus (OcMV), and Ocimum golden mosaic virus (OcGMV). Genome and phylogenetic analyses suggest that DNA-A of OcGMV is mostly related to begomoviruses infecting tomato in Africa, whereas those of OcYVV and OcMV are closely related to one another and highly divergent within the Old World begomoviruses. The DNA-A of all characterized begomovirus isolates are of a recombinant nature, revealing the role of recombination in the evolution of these begomoviruses. The viruses characterized here are the first identified in O. gratissimum and the first in Ocimum spp. in the African continent and could have important epidemiological consequences for cultivated basils and other important crops.