First report of watermelon crinkle leaf-associated virus 1 (WCLaV-1) and WCLaV-2 infecting watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) in the United States. Academic Article uri icon


  • Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) and other cucurbits are cultivated globally, and Texas ranks among its top 5 producers in the U.S. In July 2020, plants with virus-like disease symptoms consisting of mild leaf crinkling and yellow mosaic patterns were observed in a 174-ha watermelon field in Burleson Co., TX; disease incidence was visually estimated at 5%. Total nucleic acids were extracted from leaf tissues of 5 randomly sampled plants (Dellaporta 1983) and their equimolar amounts were made into a composite sample that was used for cDNA library construction with TruSeq Stranded Total RNA with Ribo-Zero Plant Kit (Illumina). The cDNA library was sequenced on the Illumina NextSeq 500 platform, generating ~37M single-end reads (each 75 nt), which were analyzed as per Al Rwahnih et al. (2018). Of these, 58,200 and 27,500 reads mapped to the genomes of watermelon crinkle leaf-associated virus 1 (WCLaV-1) and WCLaV-2 (Xin et al. 2017), respectively, along with 4 other virus-specific reads (data not shown). The near complete RNA1-RNA3 segments of WCLaV-1 (354-652X) and WCLaV-2 (144-258X) were generated from the mapped reads and they shared 96% nt identities with published RNA segments of both viruses. The results were verified by RT-PCR using newly designed primers WCLaV-1vRP: 5'-GGTGAGTTAGTGTGTCTGAAGG/WCLaV-1cRP: 5'-GAGGTTGCCTGAGGTGATAAG to target 881 bp of the RNA1-encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP), WCLaV-1vMP: 5'-GAAGGTTTGCTCCCTTGAAATG/WCLaV-1cMP: 5'-GACTGTGGCTGAAGAGTCTATG target 538 bp of the RNA2-encoded movement protein (MP), and WCLaV-1vNP: 5'-CGAATAGACTCTGGAGGGTAGA/WCLaV-1cMP: 5'-GAAAGCAAGAAAGCTGGCTAAA target 786 bp of the RNA3-encoded nucleoprotein (NP). Similarly, the WWCLaV-2-specific primers WCLaV-2vRP: 5'-GTCTCACATTCCTGCACTAACT/WCLaV-2cRP: 5'-ATCGGTCCTGGGTTATTTGTATC target 968 bp of the RdRP, WCLaV-2vMP: 5'-GACTTCAGAACCTCAACATCCA/WCLaV-2cMP: 5'-CAAGGGAGAGTGCTGACAAA target 562 bp of the MP, and WCLaV-2vNP: 5'-ATTCCCAGTGAGAGCAACAA/WCLaV-2cMP: 5'-GAGGTGGAGGTAGGAAAGAAAG target 449 bp of the NP. Fresh cDNA synthesized from the 5 samples with PrimeScript First Strand cDNA synthesis kit (Takara Bio) were tested by PCR with all 6 primer pairs using the PrimeSTAR GXL DNA Polymerase kit (Takara Bio). Three of the 5 samples were positive for both viruses and one sample was positive for each virus. The obtained products from 4 samples were cloned individually into pJET1.2/Blunt vector (Thermo Scientific, USA), followed by bidirectional Sanger-sequencing of the plasmids with the GenElute Five-Minute Plasmid Miniprep kit (Sigma-Aldrich). In pairwise comparisons, the partial RNA1-RNA3 sequences of WCLaV-1 (GenBank accession nos. MW559074-82) shared 100% nt/aa identities with each other and with corresponding sequences of WCLaV-1 isolate KF-1 from China (KY781184-86). The partial RNA1-RNA3 sequences of WCLaV-2 (MW559083-91) shared 97-100% nt/96-100% aa identities with each other and with corresponding sequences of WCLaV-2 isolate KF-15 from China (KY781187-89). This is the first report of WCLaV-1 and WCLaV-2 in Texas and the first record of both viruses in the U.S. and elsewhere outside of China. Both negative-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses represent a novel taxon in the family Phenuiviridae (order Bunyavirales) (Xin et al. 2017). While aspects of the biology of both viruses are yet to be elucidated, our results expand their geographical range. The detection primers developed here will be useful for screening cucurbits germplasm to avert their spread.

published proceedings

  • Plant Dis

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Hernandez, R. N., Isakeit, T., Al Rwahnih, M., Villegas, C., & Alabi, O. J.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Hernandez, Regina Nicole||Isakeit, Thomas||Al Rwahnih, Maher||Villegas, Cecilia||Alabi, Olufemi Joseph

publication date

  • February 2021