The coat protein (CP) gene-containing circular DNA molecule of an isolate of tomato leaf curl geminivirus (ITmLCV; 2749 nt) obtained from southern India, and the CP genes of tomato yellow leaf curl geminivirus isolates from Nigeria and two regions of Saudi Arabia were sequenced. ITmLCV DNA had the same arrangement of ORFs, and the same pattern of repeats in the large intergenic region as is found in DNA-A of other whitefly-transmitted geminiviruses (WTGs) from the Old World. However, the sequence of ITmLCV DNA and the sequences of its predicted translation products differed substantially from those of other WTGs, including one isolate obtained from a tomato plant in northern India. Comparison of the four CP sequences deduced here with those of 18 WTGs previously studied indicated that their relationships can be represented by a tree with three branches that are unrelated to plant host species but which contain viruses from the Americas, Africa to the Middle East, and Asia to Australia, respectively. It is suggested that WTG CP evolution has proceeded along different paths in these three main regions, and that WTGs have adapted freely to new hosts in each region. Indeed, the virus isolates causing similar diseases of tomato plants in the different continents are, with few exceptions, not closely related and warrant recognition as separate species.


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