Metagenomic-based screening and molecular characterization of cowpea-infecting viruses in Burkina Faso

Cowpea, ( Vigna unguiculata L. (Walp)) is an annual tropical grain legume. Often referred to as "poor man's meat", cowpea is one of the most important subsistence legumes cultivated in West Africa due to the high protein content of its seeds. However, African cowpea production can be seriously constrained by viral diseases that reduce yields. While twelve cowpea-infecting viruses have been reported from Africa, only three of these have so-far been reported from Burkina Faso. Here we use a virion-associated nucleic acids (VANA)-based metagenomics method to screen for the presence of cowpea viruses from plants collected from the three agro-climatic zones of Burkina Faso. Besides the three cowpea-infecting virus species which have previously been reported from Burkina Faso (Cowpea aphid borne mosaic virus [Family Potyviridae ], the Blackeye cowpea mosaic virus--a strain of Bean common mosaic virus--[Family Potyviridae ] and Cowpea mottle virus [Family Tombusviridae ]) five additional viruses were identified: Southern cowpea mosaic virus (Sobemovirus genus), two previously uncharacterised polerovirus-like species (Family Luteoviridae ), a previously uncharacterised tombusvirus-like species (Family Tombusviridae ) and a previously uncharacterised mycotymovirus-like species (Family Tymoviridae ). Overall, potyviruses were the most prevalent cowpea viruses (detected in 65.5% of samples) and the Southern Sudan zone of Burkina Faso was found to harbour the greatest degrees of viral diversity and viral prevalence. Partial genome sequences of the two novel polerovirus-like and tombusvirus-like species were determined and RT-PCR primers were designed for use in Burkina Faso to routinely detect all of these cowpea-associated viruses.