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Doctoral thesis2002Open access

Molecular studies on the sweet potato virus disease and its two causal agents

Kreuze, Jan


The studies presented in this thesis contribute to an increased understanding of the molecular aspects, variability and interaction of the two most important viral pathogens of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L): Sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV) and Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (SPCSV), which cause the severe sweet potato virus disease (SPVD) when co-infecting sweet potato plants. SPVD is the most important disease affecting sweet potato in Africa, and may be the most important virus disease of sweet potato globally. The coat protein gene sequences of several African SPFMV isolates were determined and compared by phylogenetic analyses. Results showed that East African SPFMV isolates were genetically distinct. They could furthermore be divided into two serotypes which differed in their ability to systemically infect the sweet potato cultivar Tanzania. The aetiology of SPVD was studied in sweet potato plants co-infected with SPFMV and SPCSV using nucleic acid hybridisation, bioassays, tissue printing and thin section immunohistochemistry. Resistance to SPFMV in East African sweet potato cultivars was found to be due to inhibition of virus replication rather than movement and resistance was suppressed by infection with SPCSV, resulting in a ca. 600-fold increase in titres of SPFMV. Furthermore, in SPVD affected plants SPFMV is detected outside of the phloem, whereas SPCSV is detected only inside the phloem, which suggests novel as yet unknown mechanisms how SPCSV synergises SPFMV. The genomic sequence of SPCSV was determined. It was composed of two RNA molecules (9407 and 8223 nucleotides), representing the second largest (+)ssRNA genome of plant viruses. The genomic organization of SPCSV revealed novel features for the genus Crinivirus, such as i) the presence of a gene putatively encoding an ribonuclease III-like protein, ii) near-identical, 208 nucleotides long 3’-sequences on both viral RNAs, and iii) the placement of the SHP gene at a new position on the genome of SPCSV relative to other closteroviridae. Northern analyses showed the presence of several sub-genomic RNAs, of which the accumulation was temporally regulated in infected tissues. The 5’-ends of seven sub-genomic RNAs were determined using a PCR based method, which indicated that the sgRNAs were capped.


Sweet potato feathery mottle virus; Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus; Ipomoea batatas; genetic variation; Crinivirus; Potyvirus; viral synergism; genome structure; expression strategy; virus resistance

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae. Agraria
2002, number: 335ISBN: 91-576-6180-4Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

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