First report and molecular identification of chilli veinal mottle virus in Italy.
Chilli veinal mottle virus (ChiVMV), a member of the genus Potyvirus, family Potyviridae, has recently been reported as a prevailing virus of chilli pepper in eastern Asia causing severe losses. The virus is easily transmitted by several aphid species in a non-persistent manner. In Italy, an increasing interest in this crop has led to an intensified germplasm introduction and exchange of seeds, cultivars and plantlets from all over the world, often overlapping human migration flows, and de facto without any phytosanitary control. A two-year survey, aimed at investigating viral diseases spreading in chilli pepper, allowed to identify for the first time in Italy two alien viruses, first pepper vein yellows virus (PeVYV - Polerovirus) then ChiVMV, that, on the basis of their epidemiological behaviours, represent a hypothetical risk for cultivations of chilli pepper and other solanaceous plants. In the present work, an Italian ChiVMV isolate has been identified by sequencing the gene coding for the coat protein. Evolutionary and phylogenetic inference revealed that the Italian isolate clustered close to isolates from continental China, showing a lower environmental pressure. Although this first outbreak was in a singular spot in a metropolitan area, the risk that viruliferous aphids could rapidly spread the stylet-borne ChiVMV to neighboring non-commercial gardening and farming is high. This communication also aims to highlight that phytosanitary measures are difficult to apply to prevent the introduction of alien pathogens by vegetable material of minor crops either by trade or amateur exchanges as well as by people communities.