Optimisation of Banana streak virus (BSV) diagnostic assays

Bjartan, Pal Kristian Berntzen (2012) Optimisation of Banana streak virus (BSV) diagnostic assays. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Bananas are one of the world�fs most important crops, serving as a staple food and an important source of income for millions of people in the subtropics. Pests and diseases are a major constraint to banana production.

To prevent the spread of pests and disease, farmers are encouraged to use disease�] and insect�]free planting material obtained by micropropagation.

This option, however, does not always exclude viruses and concern remains on the quality of planting material. Therefore, there is a demand for effective and reliable virus indexing procedures for tissue culture (TC) material.

Reliable diagnostic tests are currently available for all of the economically important viruses of bananas with the exception of Banana streak viruses (BSV, Caulimoviridae, Badnavirus). Development of a reliable diagnostic test for BSV is complicated by the significant serological and genetic variation reported for BSV isolates, and the presence of endogenous BSV (eBSV). Current PCR�] and serological�]based diagnostic methods for BSV may not detect all species of BSV, and PCR�]based methods may give false positives because of the presence of eBSV. Rolling circle amplification (RCA) has been reported as a technique to detect BSV which can also discriminate between episomal and endogenous BSV sequences.

However, the method is too expensive for large scale screening of samples in developing countries, and little information is available regarding its sensitivity. Therefore the development of reliable PCR�]based assays is still considered the most appropriate option for large scale screening of banana plants for BSV. This MSc project aimed to refine and optimise the protocols for BSV detection, with a particular focus on developing reliable PCR�]based diagnostics Initially, the appropriateness and reliability of PCR and RCA as diagnostic tests for BSV detection were assessed by testing 45 field samples of banana collected from nine districts in the Eastern region of Uganda in February 2010. This research was also aimed at investigating the diversity of BSV in eastern Uganda, identifying the BSV species present and characterising any new BSV species. Out of the 45 samples tested, 38 and 40 samples were considered positive by PCR and RCA, respectively. Six different species of BSV, namely Banana streak IM virus (BSIMV), Banana streak MY virus (BSMYV), Banana streak OL virus (BSOLV), Banana streak UA virus (BSUAV), Banana streak UL virus (BSULV), Banana streak UM virus (BSUMV), were detected by PCR and confirmed by RCA and sequencing. No new species were detected, but this was the first report of BSMYV in Uganda. Although RCA was demonstrated to be suitable for broad�]range detection of BSV, it proved time�]consuming and laborious for identification in field samples.

Due to the disadvantages associated with RCA, attempts were made to develop a reliable PCR�]based assay for the specific detection of episomal BSOLV, Banana streak GF virus (BSGFV), BSMYV and BSIMV. For BSOLV and BSGFV, the integrated sequences exist in rearranged, repeated and partially inverted portions at their site of integration. Therefore, for these two viruses, primers sets were designed by mapping previously published sequences of their endogenous counterparts onto published sequences of the episomal genomes. For BSOLV, two primer sets were designed while, for BSGFV, a single primer set was designed. The episomalspecificity of these primer sets was assessed by testing 106 plant samples collected during surveys in Kenya and Uganda, and 33 leaf samples from a wide range of banana cultivars maintained in TC at the Maroochy Research Station of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), Queensland. All of these samples had previously been tested for episomal BSV by RCA and for both BSOLV and BSGFV by PCR using published primer sets. The outcome from these analyses was that the newly designed primer sets for BSOLV and BSGFV were able to distinguish between episomal BSV and eBSV in most cultivars with some B�]genome component. In some samples, however, amplification was observed using the putative episomal�]specific primer sets where episomal BSV was not identified using RCA. This may reflect a difference in the sensitivity of PCR compared to RCA, or possibly the presence of an eBSV sequence of different conformation.

Since the sequences of the respective eBSV for BSMYV and BSIMV in the M. balbisiana genome are not available, a series of random primer combinations were tested in an attempt to find potential episomal�]specific primer sets for BSMYV and BSIMV. Of an initial 20 primer combinations screened for BSMYV detection on a small number of control samples, 11 primers sets appeared to be episomal�]specific. However, subsequent testing of two of these primer combinations on a larger number of control samples resulted in some inconsistent results which will require further investigation. Testing of the 25 primer combinations for episomal�]specific detection of BSIMV on a number of control samples showed that none were able to discriminate between episomal and endogenous BSIMV.

The final component of this research project was the development of an infectious clone of a BSV endemic in Australia, namely BSMYV. This was considered important to enable the generation of large amounts of diseased plant material needed for further research. A terminally redundant fragment (.1.3 �~ BSMYV genome) was cloned and transformed into Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain AGL1, and used to inoculate 12 healthy banana plants of the cultivars Cavendish (Williams) by three different methods. At 12 weeks post�]inoculation, (i) four of the five banana plants inoculated by corm injection showed characteristic BSV symptoms while the remaining plant was wilting/dying, (ii) three of the five banana plants inoculated by needle�]pricking of the stem showed BSV symptoms, one plant was symptomless while the remaining had died and (iii) both banana plants inoculated by leaf infiltration were symptomless. When banana leaf samples were tested for BSMYV by PCR and RCA, BSMYV was confirmed in all banana plants showing symptoms including those were wilting and/or dying.

The results from this research have provided several avenues for further research. By completely sequencing all variants of eBSOLV and eBSGFV and fully sequencing the eBSIMV and eBSMYV regions, episomal BSV�]specific primer sets for all eBSVs could potentially be designed that could avoid all integrants of that particular BSV species. Furthermore, the development of an infectious BSV clone will enable large numbers of BSVinfected plants to be generated for the further testing of the sensitivity of RCA compared to other more established assays such as PCR. The development of infectious clones also opens the possibility for virus induced gene silencing studies in banana.

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ID Code: 54665
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Harding, Robert M.
Keywords: Banana streak viruses (BSV, Caulimoviridae, Badnavirus)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 07 Nov 2012 03:57
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2017 14:45

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