Genomic analysis of the brassica pathogen turnip mosaic potyvirus reveals its spread along the former trade routes of the Silk Road

Shusuke Kawakubo, Fangluan Gao, Shifang Li, Zhongyang Tan, Ying Kun Huang, Charith Raj Adkar-Purushothama, Chennappa Gurikar, Phoowanarth Maneechoat, Pissawan Chiemsombat, Seint San Aye, Naruto Furuya, Oleksiy Shevchenko, Josef Špak, Dijana Škoric, Simon Y.W. Ho, Kazusato Ohshima

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Plant pathogens have agricultural impacts on a global scale and resolving the timing and route of their spread can aid crop protection and inform control strategies. However, the evolutionary and phylogeographic history of plant pathogens in Eurasia remains largely unknown because of the difficulties in sampling across such a large landmass. Here, we show that turnip mosaic potyvirus (TuMV), a significant pathogen of brassica crops, spread from west to east across Eurasia from about the 17th century CE. We used a Bayesian phylogenetic approach to analyze 579 whole genome sequences and up to 713 partial sequences of TuMV, including 122 previously unknown genome sequences from isolates that we collected over the past five decades. Our phylogeographic and molecular clock analyses showed that TuMV isolates of the Asian-Brassica/Raphanus (BR) and basal-BR groups and world-Brassica3 (B3) subgroup spread from the center of emergence to the rest of Eurasia in relation to the host plants grown in each country. The migration pathways of TuMV have retraced some of the major historical trade arteries in Eurasia, a network that formed the Silk Road, and the regional variation of the virus is partly characterized by different type patterns of recombinants. Our study presents a complex and detailed picture of the timescale and major transmission routes of an important plant pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021221118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 23 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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