Mostly found in Africa and its surrounding islands, African streak viruses (AfSV) represent the largest group of known mastreviruses. Of the thirteen AfSV species that are known to infect either cultivated or wild Poaceae plant species, six have been identified on Reunion Island. To better characterize AfSV diversity on this island, we undertook a survey of a small agroecosystem using a new metagenomics-based approach involving rolling circle amplification with random PCR amplification tagging (RCA-RA-PCR), high-throughput sequencing (Illumina HiSeq) and the mastrevirus reads classification using phylogenetic placement. Mastreviruses that likely belong to three new species were discovered and full genome sequences of these were determined by Sanger sequencing. The geminivirus-focused metagenomics approach we applied in this study was useful in both the detection of known and novel mastreviruses. The results confirm that Reunion Island is indeed a hotspot of AfSV diversity and that many of the mastrevirus species have likely been introduced multiple times. Applying a similar approach in other natural and agricultural environments should yield sufficient detail on the composition and diversity of geminivirus communities to precipitate major advances in our understanding of the ecology and the evolutionary history of this important group of viruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas