Partial sequences from serologically characterized yam mosaic potyvirus (YMV) isolates were determined in conserved (helper-component proteinase, HC; nuclear inclusion b, NIb) and variable (first protein, P1; third protein, P3; and coat protein, CP) regions of the potyviral genome in order to investigate the intraspecies molecular diversity of YMV. Multiple sequence alignments and pairwise comparisons were used to quantify the sequence polymorphism in these regions. Two levels of diversity were observed among YMV isolates: above 90% nucleotide (nt) sequence identities were found between YMV isolates of the same group (intragroup) regardless of the region considered, whereas identities between isolates from different groups (intergroup) were lower and depended upon the protein chosen. For instance, the average intergroup nt sequence identity between YMV isolates was about 65% in the P1 protein and the N terminus of the CP while there was more than 80% nt identity in the HC, P3 and NIb proteins. Thus P3 appeared to be conserved between YMV isolates even though this region was variable between potyvirus species. Similar analysis of the intraspecies molecular diversity of other potyviruses (potato virus Y, zucchini yellow mosaic virus, plum pox virus, pea seed-borne mosaic virus) led to the same results: (i) two levels of intraspecies molecular diversity were found (intragroup and intergroup); (ii) intraspecies molecular diversity differed from interspecies molecular diversity in the P3, P1 and N-terminal regions.


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