Cotton leaf curl disease (CLCuD) is the major biotic constraint to cotton production on the Indian subcontinent, and is caused by monopartite begomoviruses accompanied by a specific DNA satellite, Cotton leaf curl Multan betasatellite (CLCuMB). Since the breakdown of resistance against CLCuD in 2001/2002, only one virus, the "Burewala" strain of Cotton leaf curl Kokhran virus (CLCuKoV-Bur), and a recombinant form of CLCuMB have consistently been identified in cotton across the major cotton growing areas of Pakistan. Unusually a bipartite isolate of the begomovirus Tomato leaf curl virus was identified in CLCuD-affected cotton recently. In the study described here we isolated the bipartite begomovirus Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) from CLCuD-affected cotton. To assess the frequency and geographic occurrence of ToLCNDV in cotton, CLCuD-symptomatic cotton plants were collected from across the Punjab and Sindh provinces between 2013 and 2015. Analysis of the plants by diagnostic PCR showed the presence of CLCuKoV-Bur in all 31 plants examined and ToLCNDV in 20 of the samples. Additionally, a quantitative real-time PCR analysis of the levels of the two viruses in co-infected plants suggests that coinfection of ToLCNDV with the CLCuKoV-Bur/CLCuMB complex leads to an increase in the levels of CLCuMB, which encodes the major pathogenicity (symptom) determinant of the complex. The significance of these results are discussed.
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