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Abstract

Pumpkin yellow vein mosaic disease (PYVMD) causes significant damage to pumpkin production throughout India. A begomovirus causing PYVMD in South India was characterized recently but the nature of virus causing the disease in North India was not known. Samples of PYVMD were obtained from North India and two putative begomoviruses were PCR-amplified and sequenced. Comparison of complete DNA-A sequences indicated that PYVMD in North and South India were caused by two distinct begomoviruses and shared only approximately 88% DNA-A nucleotide identity. The South Indian isolate was most closely related to Squash leaf curl China virus between 91 and 96% identities, and the two North Indian isolates to Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus between 94 and 96% identities. The South Indian isolate was previously shown to be transmitted by the indigenous biotype of Bemisia tabaci, however, the situation has since changed with the introduction of the B-biotype to South India in 1999. Comparative transmission experiments between the indigenous biotype v/s the introduced B-biotype for the time required for virus acquisition (30 min v/s 15 min), inoculation (15 min v/s 10 min) and incubation (30 min v/s 4 h) have indicated that the B-biotype transmits the virus quickly and more efficiently than the indigenous biotype. An epidemic of PYVMD was recorded for the first time in South India in 2004 with disease incidences of up to 100% and significant yield losses. This may be due to a combination of several factors including the large numbers of B-biotype populations, the ability of the B-biotype to transmit the virus efficiently and the cultivation of susceptible varieties. These possibilities and the threat to pumpkin cultivation associated with the spread of the B-biotype in India are discussed.