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Prevalence and genome characterization of field isolates of sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV) in Nigeria

Maize and sugarcane are two economically important crops often grown in adjacent fields or co-cultivated in the northern guinea savannah agroecological zone, a major cereal production region of Nigeria. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of mosaic disease in sugarcane and maize crops in the northern guinea savannah agroecological zone and to molecularly characterize the associated sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV, genus Potyvirus) isolates. Surveys were conducted from June to July 2015 and sugarcane mosaic disease (SCMD) incidence was assessed across 21 farmer’s fields. Mean SCMD incidence varied across states with ~82% (308/376), ~66% (143/218) and ~67% (36/54) recorded in Kaduna, Kano and Katsina states, respectively. RT-PCR analysis of 415 field-collected samples using genus-specific primers confirmed potyvirus infection in 63.7% (156/245) of sugarcane, 29.7% (42/141) of maize crops and 45% (13/29) itch grass samples. Cloning and sequencing of gene-specific DNA amplicons from a subset of 45 samples (sugarcane = 33, maize = 9, itch grass = 3) confirmed their specificities to SCMV. Phylogenetic analysis of the partial gene sequences showed that they all belong to a single monophyletic clade of SCMV. These results were supported by analysis of complete polyprotein sequences of representative maize and sugarcane isolates from Nigeria. Both isolates shared 94.9%/97.3% complete polyprotein nucleotide (nt)/amino acid (aa) identities with each other and 75.2%/97.6% nt/aa identities with corresponding sequences of global SCMV isolates. The detection of identical population of SCMV isolates in both crop species and a weed host suggests possible vector mediated interspecies spread within cereal landscapes in the study area with implications for the integrated and sustainable management of SCMD in cereal cropping systems in Nigeria.