The sequence of the 3′ 1106 nucleotides of the watermelon mosaic virus 2 (WMV 2) genome has been determined. The sequence contains the complete coding region of the viral coat protein followed by a 3′ untranslated sequence of 251 nucleotides. When these sequences were compared with the equivalent regions of the N strain of soybean mosaic virus (SMV-N), the coat protein coding regions were 82% homologous, whereas the 3′ untranslated sequences were 78% homologous. Optimal alignment of the 3′ untranslated regions of RNA from 13 strains of seven other distinct potyviruses revealed that the degree of homology between strains was in the range 83 to 99%. In contrast, the sequences from distinct viruses had identities in the range 39 to 53%, comparable to the level of identity found between the 3′ non-coding regions of viruses from unrelated plant virus groups. On the basis of these results, WMV 2 and SMV-N could be regarded as strains of one virus. These results also suggest that the sequence of the 3′ untranslated region of the potyvirus genome may be an accurate marker of genetic relatedness and could serve as an aid to identification and classification of potyviruses.


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