The complete, 19226 nt sequence of the RNA genome from VT, a seedling yellows strain of citrus tristeza virus (CTV), was determined and found to have a genome organization identical with that of the previously determined CTV-T36 isolate, except that ORF 1 of CTV-VT was 70 nt shorter due to two widely separated 18 nt deletions. Sequence comparison of CTV-VT and CTV-T36 revealed approximately 89% identity throughout the ten 3′ ORFs, but only 60–70% identity throughout ORF 1. The 5′ nontranslated regions were only 60% identical whereas the 3′ nontranslated regions were 97% identical. The transition between regions of similarity and deviation was gradual, suggesting that the sequence similarities and differences compared to CTV-T36 were unlikely to have arisen from a recent recombination event between a close T36 relative and a distantly related CTV isolate. This is the first attempt to compare in detail the variation between the genomes of two strains of a member of the closterovirus group. The observed deviation between the large RNA genomes of the two CTV strains is greater than that among different viruses of most other groups, raising the question of how to define the taxonomy of these viruses.


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