Evidence for plant viruses in the region of Argentina Islands, Antarctica


  • Editor: Rosa Margesin

Correspondence: Valery Polischuk, Virology Department, Taras Shevchenko' Kyiv National University, 2 Glushkova pr, Kyiv 01033, Ukraine. Tel./ fax: +38044 5221648; e-mail: virus@biocc.univ.kiev.ua


This work focused on the assessment of plant virus occurrence among primitive and higher plants in the Antarctic region. Sampling occurred during two seasons (2004/5 and 2005/6) at the Ukrainian Antarctic Station ‘Academician Vernadskiy’ positioned on Argentina Islands. Collected plant samples of four moss genera (Polytrichum, Plagiatecium, Sanionia and Barbilophozia) and one higher monocot plant species, Deschampsia antarctica, were further subjected to enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to test for the presence of common plant viruses. Surprisingly, samples of Barbilophozia and Polytrichum mosses were found to contain antigens of viruses from the genus Tobamovirus, Tobacco mosaic virus and Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus, which normally parasitize angiosperms. By contrast, samples of the monocot Deschampsia antarctica were positive for viruses typically infecting dicots: Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus, Cucumber mosaic virus and Tomato spotted wilt virus. Serological data for Deschampsia antarctica were supported in part by transmission electron microscopy observations and bioassay results. The results demonstrate comparatively high diversity of plant viruses detected in Antarctica; the results also raise questions of virus specificity and host susceptibility, as the detected viruses normally infect dicotyledonous plants. However, the means of plant virus emergence in the region remain elusive and are discussed.