Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) is an economically important virus of cucurbit crops. However, little is known about the rate at which this virus has evolved within members of the family Cucurbitaceae, or the timescale of its epidemiological history. Herein, we present the first analysis of the evolutionary dynamics of ZYMV. Using a Bayesian coalescent approach we show that the coat protein of ZYMV has evolved a mean rate of 5.0x10-4 nucleotide substitutions per site, per year. Notably, this rate is equivalent to those observed in animal RNA viruses. Using the same approach we show that the lineages of ZYMV sampled here have an ancestry that dates back no more than 800 years, suggesting that human activities have played a central role in the dispersal of ZYMV. Finally, an analysis of phylogeographical structure provides strong evidence for the in situ evolution of ZYMV within individual countries.
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