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Analysis of intra-host genetic diversity of Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (PNRSV) using amplicon next generation sequencing

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posted on 2023-04-06, 02:58 authored by Wycliff Kinoti, Fiona ConstableFiona Constable, Narelle Nancarrow, Kim PlummerKim Plummer, Brendan RodoniBrendan Rodoni
PCR amplicon next generation sequencing (NGS) analysis offers a broadly applicable and targeted approach to detect populations of both high- or low-frequency virus variants in one or more plant samples. In this study, amplicon NGS was used to explore the diversity of the tripartite genome virus, Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (PNRSV) from 53 PNRSV-infected trees using amplicons from conserved gene regions of each of PNRSV RNA1, RNA2 and RNA3. Sequencing of the amplicons from 53 PNRSV-infected trees revealed differing levels of polymorphism across the three different components of the PNRSV genome with a total number of 5040, 2083 and 5486 sequence variants observed for RNA1, RNA2 and RNA3 respectively. The RNA2 had the lowest diversity of sequences compared to RNA1 and RNA3, reflecting the lack of flexibility tolerated by the replicase gene that is encoded by this RNA component. Distinct PNRSV phylo-groups, consisting of closely related clusters of sequence variants, were observed in each of PNRSV RNA1, RNA2 and RNA3. Most plant samples had a single phylo-group for each RNA component. Haplotype network analysis showed that smaller clusters of PNRSV sequence variants were genetically connected to the largest sequence variant cluster within a phylo-group of each RNA component. Some plant samples had sequence variants occurring in multiple PNRSV phylo-groups in at least one of each RNA and these phylo-groups formed distinct clades that represent PNRSV genetic strains. Variants within the same phylo-group of each Prunus plant sample had 97% similarity and phylo-groups within a Prunus plant sample and between samples had less 97% similarity. Based on the analysis of diversity, a definition of a PNRSV genetic strain was proposed. The proposed definition was applied to determine the number of PNRSV genetic strains in each of the plant samples and the complexity in defining genetic strains in multipartite genome viruses was explored.


This research was funded by the La Trobe University Research Scholarship (, the Almond Board Australia ( and Horticulture Innovation Australia (


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© 2017 Kinoti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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