The variability of North American and Asian strains and isolates of Soybean mosaic virus was investigated. First, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products representing the coat protein (CP)-coding regions of 38 SMVs were analyzed for restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP). Second, the nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequence variability of the P1-coding region of 18 SMVs and the helper component/protease (HC/Pro) and CP-coding regions of 25 SMVs were assessed. The CP nucleotide and predicted amino acid sequences were the most similar and predicted phylogenetic relationships similar to those obtained from RFLP analysis. Neither RFLP nor sequence analyses of the CP-coding regions grouped the SMVs by geographical origin. The P1 and HC/Pro sequences were more variable and separated the North American and Asian SMV isolates into two groups similar to previously reported differences in pathogenic diversity of the two sets of SMV isolates. The P1 region was the most informative of the three regions analyzed. To assess the biological relevance of the sequence differences in the HC/Pro and CP coding regions, the transmissibility of 14 SMV isolates by Aphis glycines was tested. All field isolates of SMV were transmitted efficiently by A. glycines, but the laboratory isolates analyzed were transmitted poorly. The amino acid sequences from most, but not all, of the poorly transmitted isolates contained mutations in the aphid transmission-associated DAG and/or KLSC amino acid sequence motifs of CP and HC/Pro, respectively.
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