A disease of Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan), characterized by severe flower deformation, was observed in Minnesota during 2010–2016. A previously undescribed virus species, named Rudbeckia flower distortion virus (RuFDV, family Caulimoviridae, genus unassigned), was determined to be the causal agent of the disease. Symptoms induced by RuFDV infection resemble those characteristic of phytoplasma-induced diseases, but no phytoplasmas were detected in RuFDV-infected R. hirta. The virus, and the disease were transmitted readily by mechanical inoculation and by the aphid Myzus persicae, but only to R. hirta. Virions of RuFDV are icosahedral, 42–45 nm in diameter, and contain a circular 8222 bp dsDNA genome containing seven open reading frames (ORFs). The ORFs 2–6 have 28–52% amino acid sequence identity to the movement protein (MP), coat protein (CP), aspartic protease (AP), reverse transcriptase (RT) and RNase H, and translational transactivator (TA) domains of known caulimoviruses. The two remaining ORFs (1 and 7) have no significant amino acid sequence similarity to known viruses. Although the RuFDV ORF 6 is significantly truncated relative to those of other known caulimoviruses, neither this nor the concomitant absence of characteristic virus-encoded cytoplasmic inclusion bodies appears to adversely affect aphid transmission of this virus. Phylogenetic analysis based on the sequence of the RT region revealed no close relationship to known members of the family Caulimoviridae. Based on sequence similarity, genome organization and phylogenetic relatedness, RuFDV appears to be distinct from any currently recognized taxonomic grouping in the family Caulimoviridae.
- Aphid transmission
- Plant pararetrovirus