Genetic Structure and Molecular Variability of Cucumber mosaic virus Isolates in the United States

Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) has a worldwide distribution and the widest host range of any known plant virus. From 2000 to 2012, epidemics of CMV severely affected the production of snap bean (Phaseulos vulgaris L.) in the Midwest and Northeastern United States. Virus diversity leading to emergence of new strains is often considered a significant factor in virus epidemics. In addition to epidemics, new disease phenotypes arising from genetic exchanges or mutation can compromise effectiveness of plant disease management strategies. Here, we captured a snapshot of genetic variation of 32 CMV isolates collected from different regions of the U.S including new field as well as historic isolates. Nucleotide diversity (π) was low for U.S. CMV isolates. Sequence and phylogenetic analyses revealed that CMV subgroup I is predominant in the US and further showed that the CMV population is a mixture of subgroups IA and IB. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis suggests likely reassortment between subgroups IA and IB within five CMV isolates. Based on phylogenetic and computational analysis, recombination between subgroups I and II as well as IA and IB in RNA 3 was detected. This is the first report of recombination between CMV subgroups I and II. Neutrality tests illustrated that negative selection was the major force operating upon the CMV genome, although some positively selected sites were detected for all encoded proteins. Together, these data suggest that different regions of the CMV genome are under different evolutionary constraints. These results also delineate composition of the CMV population in the US, and further suggest that recombination and reassortment among strain subgroups does occur but at a low frequency, and point towards CMV genomic regions that differ in types of selection pressure.