A novel curtovirus, spinach severe curly top virus (SSCTV), was associated with symptomatic spinach plants collected from a commercial field in south-central Arizona during 2009. In addition, a second viral molecule of about 2.9 kb from the same spinach plants was amplified, cloned and sequenced. The latter isolate, herein named spinach curly top Arizona virus (SCTAV), was found to share 77 % pairwise sequence identity with beet curly top Iran virus (BCTIV), a leafhopper-transmitted geminivirus that has been assigned to the new genus Becurtovirus. The SCTAV genome encodes three viral-sense genes, V1, V2, and V3, and two complementary-sense genes, C1 and C2. There was no evidence for the presence of either a C3 or C4 ORF in the genome sequence. The genome organization of SCTAV is not like that of New World curtoviruses but instead is similar to that of BCTIV, which, to date, is only known to be present in Iran. Consistent with this observation, SCTAV and BCTIV both contain the unusual nonanucleotide TAAGATT/CC and a replication-associated protein, Rep (or C1), that is more closely related to the mastrevirus Rep than to those of curtoviruses reported to date. Both SSCTV and SCTAV were found to have a recombinant genome containing sequences (AY548948) derived from ancestral SCTV sequences in the virion-sense portions of the genome. Agroinoculation of Nicotiana benthamiana (Domin) plants with the cloned genome of SCTAV resulted in infection of 95 % of the plants and the development of severe curling symptoms, whereas only 20 % of the SSCTV-inoculated plants were infected, developing only mild curling symptoms. When plants were co-inoculated with both viruses, the frequency of infection remained higher for SCTAV than for SSCTV (80 % vs. 20 %), indicating no evidence of synergistic effects between the two viruses with respect to efficiency of infection.
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