• Geminivirus;
  • mastrevirus;
  • curtovirus;
  • begomovirus;
  • Bemisia tabaci;
  • whitefly;
  • emerging viruses


Geminiviruses form the second largest family of plant viruses, the Geminiviridae, represented by four genera: Mastrevirus, Curtovirus, Topocuvirus and Begomovirus. During the last two decades these viruses have emerged as devastating pathogens, particularly in the tropics and subtropics, causing huge economic losses and threatening crop production. Epidemics caused by re-emerging and newly emerging geminiviruses are becoming frequent even in regions that were earlier free from these viruses. Compared to mastreviruses and curtoviruses, begomoviruses have emerged as more serious problems in a variety of crops, for example, cassava, cotton, grain legumes and vegetables. Major contributory factors for the emergence and spread of new geminivirus diseases are the evolution of variants of the viruses, the appearance of the whitefly ‘B’ biotype and the increase in the vector population. Variability in geminiviruses has arisen through mutations, recombination and pseudorecombination. Genomic recombination in geminiviruses, not only between the variants of the same virus but also between species and even between genera, has resulted in rapid diversification. From the disease point of view, most virulent variants have developed through recombination of viral genomes such as those associated with cassava mosaic, cotton leaf curl, and tomato leaf curl diseases. Heterologous recombinants containing parts of the host genome and/or sequences from satellite-like molecules associated with monopartite begomoviruses provide unlimited evolutionary opportunities. Human activity has also played an important role in the emergence of serious geminivirus diseases across the globe, like the changes in cropping systems, the introduction of new crops, the movement of infected planting materials and the introduction of host susceptibility genes through the exchange of germplasm.