Factors influencing reversion from virus infection in sweetpotato
Gibson, Richard W.
Settumba, B. Mukasa
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Viruses limit sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) production worldwide. Many sweetpotato landraces in East Africa are, however, largely virus-free. Moreover, some plants infected by the prevalent Sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV) may be able to revert to virus-free status. In this study, we analysed reversion from SPFMV, Sweet potato virus C, Sweet potato mild mottle virus, Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (SPCSV) and Sweet potato leaf curl Uganda virus using the indicator plant I. setosa and PCR/reverse-transcriptase PCR. We also investigated environmental factors (temperature and soil nutrients) that may influence reversion from virus infection. We tested reversion in the East African cultivars New Kawogo, NASPOT 1 and NASPOT 11, and the United States cultivars Resisto and Beauregard. Reverted plants were asymptomatic and virus was undetectable in assayed parts of the plant. After graft inoculation, only the East African cultivars mostly reverted at a high rate and from most viruses though cultivar Beauregard fully reverted following sap inoculation with Sweet potato virus C. None of the tested cultivars fully reverted from single or double infections involving SPCSV, and reversion was only observed in co-infections involving potyviruses. Root sprouts derived from SPFMV-reverted plants were also virus free. Reversion generally increased with increasing temperature and by improved soil nutrition. Overall, these results indicate variation in reversion by cultivar and that the natural ability of sweetpotato plants to revert from viruses is malleable, which has implications for both breeding and virus control.