Dual begomovirus infections and high Bemisia tabaci populations: two factors driving the spread of a cassava mosaic disease pandemic

Authors

  • J. Colvin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Plant, Animal and Human Health Group, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TB, UK; and
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    • *

      To whom correspondence should be addressed.

  • C. A. Omongo,

    1. Namulonge Agricultural and Animal Production Research Institute, PO Box 7084, Kampala, Uganda
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  • M. N. Maruthi,

    1. Plant, Animal and Human Health Group, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TB, UK; and
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  • G. W. Otim-Nape,

    1. Namulonge Agricultural and Animal Production Research Institute, PO Box 7084, Kampala, Uganda
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  • J. M. Thresh

    1. Plant, Animal and Human Health Group, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TB, UK; and
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†E-mail: j.colvin@greenwich.ac.uk

Abstract

A cassava mosaic disease (CMD) pandemic currently affects much of East and Central Africa. To understand the factors driving the pandemic's continued spread, complementary data sets were collected from cassava plots, planted with healthy cuttings, at eight sites along a north–south transect in southern Uganda, through the pandemic's leading edge. Data were collected on virus incidence, symptom severity, populations of the whitefly vector, Bemisia tabaci, their infectivity and ability to transmit different viruses. In 1996, 6 months after planting, CMD incidences were highest at sites 1 and 2, then decreased progressively until site 6, and remained low at sites 7 and 8. The largest B. tabaci populations also occurred at northernmost sites, 1–3. In 1997, CMD incidence increased significantly at sites 5–8 and this was associated with significant increases in the B. tabaci populations. The pandemic's spread was also associated with significant increases in the percentage of dual infections of East African cassava mosaic virus-Uganda and African cassava mosaic virus, which caused the severest symptoms and the greatest reduction in leaf area. Whitefly adults collected from within the pandemic area were infective, whereas those collected ahead of the pandemic were not. The transmission rate of African cassava mosaic virus from plants with dual infections was significantly less than that of East African cassava mosaic virus-Uganda, which may explain the latter's predominance within the pandemic. These results show that the arrival of East African cassava mosaic virus-Uganda into areas affected previously only by African cassava mosaic virus, has resulted in novel virus/vector/host–plant interactions that drive the pandemic's continued spread.

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