Tomatoes in Guatemala have been affected by a new disease, locally known as "mancha de chocolate" (chocolate spot). The disease is characterized by distinct necrotic spots on leaves, stems and petioles that eventually expand and cause a dieback of apical tissues. Samples from symptomatic plants tested negative for infection by tomato spotted wilt virus, tobacco streak virus, tobacco etch virus and other known tomato-infecting viruses. A virus-like agent was sap-transmitted from diseased tissue to Nicotiana benthamiana and, when graft-transmitted to tomato, this agent induced chocolate spot symptoms. This virus-like agent also was sap-transmitted to Datura stramonium and Nicotiana glutinosa, but not to a range of non-solanaceous indicator plants. Icosahedral virions ~28-3 nm in diameter were purified from symptomatic N. benthamiana plants. When rub-inoculated onto leaves of N. benthamiana plants, these virions induced symptoms indistinguishable from those in N. benthamiana plants infected with the sap-transmissible virus associated with chocolate spot disease. Tomatoes inoculated with sap or grafted with shoots from N. benthamiana plants infected with purified virions developed typical chocolate spot symptoms, consistent with this virus being the causal agent of the disease. Analysis of nucleic acids associated with purified virions of the chocolate-spot-associated virus, revealed a genome composed of two single-stranded RNAs of ~7.5 and ~5.1 kb. Sequence analysis of these RNAs revealed a genome organization similar to recently described torradoviruses, a new group of picorna-like viruses causing necrosis-associated diseases of tomatoes in Europe [tomato torrado virus (ToTV)] and Mexico [tomato apex necrosis virus (ToANV) and tomato marchitez virus (ToMarV)]. Thus, the ~7.5 kb and ~5.1 kb RNAs of the chocolate-spot-associated virus corresponded to the torradovirus RNA1 and RNA2, respectively; however, sequence comparisons revealed 64-83% identities with RNA1 and RNA2 sequences of ToTV, ToANV and ToMarV. Together, these results indicate that the chocolate-spot-associated virus is a member of a distinct torradovirus species and, thus, another member of the recently established genus Torradovirus in the family Secoviridae. The name tomato chocolate spot virus is proposed.
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