Viral small RNAs reveal the genomic variations of three grapevine vein clearing virus quasispecies populations


Viral small RNAs (vsRNAs) include viral small interfering RNAs (vsiRNAs) that are initiators and products of RNA silencing, and small RNAs that are derived from viral RNAs with function still unknown. Sequencing of vsRNAs allows assembling of viral genomes and revelation of viral population variations at genomic levels. Grapevine vein clearing virus (GVCV) is a new member of the family Caulimoviridae whose DNA genome is replicated by reverse transcription of pre-genomic RNA molecules. In this short report, three genomic sequences of GVCV were assembled from vsRNAs that were isolated and sequenced from three individual grapevines in commercial vineyards and compared to the GVCV-CHA reference genome. Profiles of single nucleotide polymorphism among three viral populations indicated a closer relatedness between two populations in different grape cultivars at the same location than those in the same grape cultivar at different locations, suggesting the spread of GVCV populations among vineyards of close proximity. Classic types of vsiRNAs (21-nt, 22-nt, and 24-nt) were found in the three GVCV vsiRNA populations, but these did not produce alignment hotspots on the GVCV-CHA reference genome. The number of 36-nt reads is the highest among vsRNAs, the role of these vsRNAs remains unclear. The analysis of vsRNAs provides a first holistic picture of genomic variations among GVCV viral quasispecies populations that help monitor epidemics and evolution of GVCV populations, an emerging virus that is becoming a threat to grape production in the Midwest region of the USA.


Environmental Plant Science and Natural Resources

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viral small RNAs, GVCV, quasispecies, genome variations

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Journal Title

Virus research