Archive for the ‘Viruses’ Category

Media Release

Banana army poised to defend Aussie plantations

Publication date: 18 May 2023

Banana growers managing over 600 commercial banana properties along the east coast of Australia are being armed with an arsenal of tools to guard against significant pests and diseases through a $1.7M collaboration.

Delivered through Hort Innovation and led by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, the surveillance and grower education program provides an array of tools to protect the $500 million banana industry and educate growers on how to recognise early disease symptoms and manage diseases more effectively. This has been through farm visits, workshops, grower groups and other resources such as videos that provide tips for detecting new infections.

Hort Innovation chief executive officer Brett Fifield said addressing the threat of significant banana diseases, as well improving grower capacity to manage them, is a critical priority for the banana industry.

“Research shows if Panama TR4 alone was to spread widely it would cost the Australian banana industry $5 billion over ten years. The challenge of having to deal with TR4 in combination with other significant banana diseases on a property would have an even more serious impact.”

TR4 is currently contained to Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory. It is considered the biggest threat to Australian banana growers. However, if left unchecked, there are a range of other pests and diseases that could be just as devastating to the banana industry and the communities it supports. Losses through on-farm management of leaf diseases (yellow Sigatoka and Leaf Speckle) run to tens of millions of dollars per year and, if Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) were to spread in Far North Queensland, losses have been estimated at $16-20 million per year.

“That is why the banana industry is investing its levies heavily into a suite of programs through Hort Innovation that reduce the spread and impact of pests and diseases and ensure any new incidents are picked up as quickly as possible,” Mr Fifield said.

Australian Banana Growers’ Council project leader Rosie Godwin said the goal of the surveillance and education project is to boost the banana industry’s ability to prevent, manage, and reduce the impact of biosecurity threats.

“The presence of Bunchy Top on a property, if left unchecked, can make a business unviable within 18 months. On top of that, Bunchy Top symptoms alongside heavy infestation of Leaf Spot and Leaf Speckle could mask symptoms of TR4 and reduce the efficacy of surveillance, detection and containment,” Dr Godwin said.

“By directly including growers and farm advisors in surveillance and biosecurity programs, we are supercharging our biosecurity efforts and increasing the likelihood of early detection. Banana growers know their own properties better than anyone else, so even a little bit of training goes a long way.”

Third-generation banana grower and ABGC director Andrew Serra, from Tolga in Far North Queensland, said the project provides growers with the tools they need to be on the front foot when it comes to protecting their property and the industry more broadly.

“The ABGC team provide invaluable surveillance and training for banana growers like myself. As far as I’m concerned, we have got more than enough to deal with when it comes to pests and diseases, particularly with TR4. If Banana Bunchy Top was detected in the major production areas of Far North Queensland on top of that, it could decimate our industry, let alone any other biosecurity threat not currently present in Australia.”

Mr Fifield will be speaking more about this project and other Hort Innovation investments for the banana industry at the Australian Banana Congress tomorrow at 8am.

Lauren Jones

Content Manager

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Potato virus found at four locations in Tasmania

Tas Country Hour

Broadcast Tue 4 Apr 2023 at 9:00pmTuesday 4 Apr 2023 at 9:00pm

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A potato affected by PVY
The effects of the virus PVY on a potato(Supplied; NRE Tasmania)

The Potato virus Y necrotic strain (PVYNTN) has been detected in several Maranca variety potato crops on Tasmania’s east coast and in the Northern Midlands.

Biosecurity Tasmania says the virus is transported by aphids and leaves black rings around the vegetable making it unfit for use, but not dangerous to humans.

It’s the second time the virus has been detected in the state and Biosecurity Tasmania is now working with the potato industry to manage the problem.

Leaders of the Drought Resilience and Adoption Hub have visited Tasmania to talk to local farming groups about how effective the program has been so far. 


Broadcast 4 Apr 20234 Apr 2023

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HLB-tolerant Donaldson tree might help hard-hit Florida citrus growers

Due to a combination of factors, including a destructive tropical season in 2022, citrus production in Florida dropped to levels not seen since World War II. Citrus growers are facing an uphill battle due to the combined effects of ongoing drought, a disease known as citrus greening and the damage wrought by Hurricane Ian last fall. But there is still hope in the industry.

Despite the challenges, there is renewed hope in the fight against citrus greening a.k.a  Huanglongbing, as the state, the world’s second-largest orange juice producer after Brazil, has a new discovery that will help the state continue production despite the challenges: the HLB-tolerant Donaldson tree.

“It’s not immune, it does get the disease, but it seems to be able to keep growing,” Ben Rosson, bureau chief of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell. The Florida Department of Agriculture has started growing clean trees to distribute to nurseries for propagation. One of the nurseries to receive the Donaldson trees belongs to Roy Petteway in Hardee County, Florida.

Source: accuweather.com

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First HLB detections in Uruguay

The first cases of plants with HLB disease have been confirmed in Uruguay, according to a health emergency note released by the country’s Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries. Plants with symptoms were found in a residence in the city of Bella Unión. After laboratory analysis, the presence of the disease was confirmed. Inspections were carried out in the homes and surroundings where the outbreak was identified, and no new positive cases were detected.

As a result, measures were adopted to prevent the spread of the disease. Measures included constant monitoring of homes and farms with citrus plants and following an action plan developed over 10 years ago. The action plan between public and private institutions is for the management and control of HLB.

The citrus sector represents a very important social and economic asset for Uruguay, generating around 17,000 direct and indirect jobs and exporting more than $8 million worth of products annually.

Source: citrusindustry.net

Publication date: Thu 16 Mar 2023

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Weed linked to wheat behind virus that stunts paddy’

Feb 18, 2023, 08:40 IST



‘Weed linked to wheat behind virus that stunts paddy’

Hisar: A team of scientists from the department of plant pathology, Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), engaged in finding out causes of dwarfism in paddy crops (basmati, non-basmati, hybrid etc.), has found that the disease is not only caused by Southern Rice Black Streaked Dwarf Virus (SRBSDV), but also the Rice Gall Dwarf Virus (RGDV).
Information has also been obtained about whom these two viruses, belonging to the spinareoviridae virus group, have made their host.
HAU vice-chancellor professor BR Kamboj said SRBSDV infection has been found more in this disease and this virus has made Pova Anova, a weed of the Rabi season wheat crop, its host which is a matter of concern. There has not been any instance of this virus infecting the wheat crop. Therefore, if the farmer destroys this weed from the wheat crop, the possibility of this disease in the paddy crop next year will almost end. For this, apart from mechanical methods, farmers can also spray weed killer Clodinafop 200 grams and Matribugene 240 grams per acre, VC said.
VC informed that the varsity’s plant pathologist, Vinod Kumar Malik, and biotechnologist Shikha Yashveer had decoded the virus in nucleic acid and coat protein regions. This has been confirmed by the use of virus-specific primers and molecular studies of the S4, S9 and S10 segments of the virus. University scientists O P Lathwal, Promil, Mahavir Singh, Rakesh Kharb, Ankit Judd, Sumit Saini, Manjunath, Vishal and Amit Kumar are working on the problem of dwarfism in paddy, VC said.

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HAU director of research Jeet Ram Sharma said they were regularly studying the path of the virus. Emphasizing on clean farming, Hawa Singh Saharan, head of the department of plant disease, asked for regular cleaning of drains, so that further transfer of virus could be prevented.

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Remote-sensing models can enhance Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) surveillance

The IITA–CGIAR team has published a method using drones and satellite imager-based remote sensing approaches for mapping banana farms to guide surveillance for the detection and mapping of the banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) spread and support data-informed decision-making on BBTV containment strategies in sub-Saharan Africa.

The study, Banana Mapping in Heterogenous Smallholder Farming Systems Using High-Resolution Remote Sensing Imagery and Machine Learning Models with Implications for Banana Bunchy Top Disease Surveillance, was published in the peer-reviewed, open access Remote Sensing journal.

Source: cgiar.org

Publication date: Thu 2 Feb 2023

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Remote-sensing models to combat Banana bunchy top virus in Africa

The IITA–CGIAR team has published a method using drones and satellite imager-based remote sensing approaches for mapping banana farms to guide surveillance for the detection and mapping of the banana bunchy top virus spread and support data-informed decision-making on virus containment strategies in sub-Saharan Africa.

The study, Banana Mapping in Heterogenous Smallholder Farming Systems Using High-Resolution Remote Sensing Imagery and Machine Learning Models with Implications for Banana Bunchy Top Disease Surveillance, was published in the peer-reviewed, open access Remote Sensing journal.

BBTV has emerged as a major threat to banana production in sub-Saharan Africa. The virus infection results in severe dwarfing (bunching) of the shoots and cessation of fruit production, denting the food and income security of smallholder farmers.

Source: iita.org

Publication date: Mon 16 Jan 2023

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 EPPO Reporting Service no. 11 – 2022  Num. article: 2022/244

First record of sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus in the Netherlands

The NPPO of the Netherlands recently informed the EPPO Secretariat of the first finding of sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (Crinivirus, SPCSV – EU Annexes) in sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) plants on its territory. SPCSV was found in September 2022 in two open fields in Noord-Brabant province (11.83 and 4.72 ha) and one in Limburg province (0.5 ha). The official survey was part of the Euphresco project ‘Phytosanitary risks of newly introduced crops’ (PRONC). Tracing back investigations to the origin of the finding showed that the sweet potato slips used for planting originated from a company in another EU Member State. Sweet potato is a new crop in the Netherlands. During the survey, plants with and without virus symptoms were sampled and tested. SPCSV was identified in several plants with virus-like symptoms (e.g. vein banding, discoloration, rings, dots). Additionally, in several of these symptomatic plants a second, non-EU listed, virus was identified: sweet potato virus G (Potyvirus, SPVG00). The mixed infection may have increased the severity of the observed symptoms.

Official phytosanitary measures have been taken. The companies have to report to the NPPO when all tubers of the Ipomoea batatas plants have been harvested and the total quantity thereof. All infected lots should be stored in a traceable manner, separately from other harvested lots. Only sales for consumption/industry are allowed, otherwise the lots have to be destroyed. The companies should report when the infected lots are sold or destroyed. The lots must be sold/destroyed before 31 March 2023. 

The pest status of sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus in the Netherlands is officially declared as: Transient, actionable, under eradication.


NPPO of the Netherlands (2022-10). https://english.nvwa.nl/topics/pest-reporting/pest-reports

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Virus Undercuts Fungus’s Attacks on Wheat

USDA Agricultural Research Service sent this bulletin at 11/29/2022 10:05 AM EST

View as a webpageARS News ServiceARS News
ServiceFusarium head blight on wheat
A “mycovirus” could help stop the Fusarium head blight fungus from contaminating wheat grains and giving them a ghastly bleached appearance (shown at right).Virus Undercuts Fungus’s Attacks on Wheat
For media inquiries contact: Jan Suszkiw, (202) 734-1176

November 29, 2022 A naturally occurring virus co-discovered by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists may offer a way to undermine a costly fungal threat to wheat, barley and other small-grain crops.The fungus, Fusarium graminearum, is the chief culprit behind a disease called Fusarium head blight, or “scab.” Unchecked with fungicides or other measures, scab diminishes the yield and quality of the crops’ grain. Under wet, humid conditions, the scab fungus can release a toxin called deoxynivalenol (a.k.a., “vomitoxin”) that can contaminate the grain, reducing its point-of-sale value or leading to outright rejection depending on end use.Now, however, a team of scientists with the ARS Application Technology Research Unit in Wooster, Ohio, and South Dakota State University in Brookings (SDSU) has discovered a strain of a fungal virus, or “mycovirus,” that disables the scab fungus’s vomitoxin-making machinery.In nature, the mycovirus, a species called Fusarium graminearaum Vg1, infects the scab fungus to replicate and spread. But the new mycovirus strain, dubbed F. graminearum Vg1-SD4, takes such attacks a step further by stopping the scab fungus from making vomitoxin—a fortuitous benefit for wheat plants.Indeed, in laboratory and greenhouse experiments, cultures of the scab fungus that had been infected with the mycovirus strain grew slower than non-infected cultures and produced no vomitoxin in the grain of susceptible potted wheat plants. In contrast, the grain of wheat plants exposed to mycovirus-free cultures of scab contained 18 ppm of vomitoxin, a byproduct of the fungus’s metabolism that can be harmful to livestock and human health.ARS molecular biologist Shin-Yi Lee Marzano and her collaborators discovered the mycovirus strain after sequencing its genomic makeup and noticing slight differences from its “parent” species, FgVg1, which had been maintained in a live culture of the scab fungus and known to science for about a decade.Marzano cautioned that their research—reported in the July 2022 issue of Microorganisms—is still in its early stages. However, with further study, the mycovirus strain could prove useful as a biological control agent that could be formulated and sprayed onto susceptible wheat varieties or other small-grain crops. That, in turn, could potentially offer growers another tool to use in avoiding costly losses to scab and its contamination of grain destined for livestock and human consumption.  Marzano collaborated on the mycovirus strain research with Bimal Paudel and Yang Yen—both with SDSU’s Department of Biology and Microbiology—and Connar Pedersen (formerly SDSU and now ARS).The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.Interested in reading more about ARS research? Visit our news archiveU.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Research Service

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Rijk Zwaan launches ToBRFV-resistant tomato varieties

The Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus or ToBRFV has been causing major economic losses in tomato cultivation worldwide. Rijk Zwaan’s team of researchers found new ToBRFV-resistant genetics .

HR ToBRFV – Rugose Defense
Soon after this discovery, breeders started to develop resistant varieties in all worldwide breeding programs and extensively tested these varieties internally as well as with growers to assess their agronomic value. Rijk Zwaan now offers growers the best-performing hybrids under the Rugose Defense label, including mini plum, cherry TOV, cocktail, and medium TOV tomato varieties.

Compatible with all commercial rootstocks
Rijk Zwaan tomato varieties with high resistance to ToBRFV are compatible with all commercially available rootstocks. Trials have shown that rootstock variety Suzuka RZ performs strongly in combination with both susceptible and resistant tomato varieties.

Contact for more information
In the coming period, Rijk Zwaan will continue to introduce new varieties suitable for high-tech and protected cultivation. Rijk Zwaan would like to thank all growers who supported the company in testing the first HR resistant tomatoes for high-tech cultivation. Keen to know more? Visit Rijk Zwaan’s local Rugose Defense page.

For more information:
Rijk Zwaan

Publication date: Tue 6 Dec 2022


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Growers can use a test kit to detect ToBRFV before plants even shows signs

Knowing, for sure, that your crop is infected before the plants show signs. Growers have wanted that since the Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (TOBRFV) reared its ugly head. And preferably quickly, too. This summer, the Dutch company Spark Radar launched a grower test kit for that. Growers can use it to detect, with high reliability and within three hours, whether their crop is contaminated.

According to Spark Rader’s co-founder, Rogier van der Voort, its virus test’s reliability and sensitivity can well well-compared to that of a PCR test. “However, you don’t have to send our test’s samples to a service lab. That saves considerable time – crucial when detecting and containing a possible outbreak.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, he and Bas Rutjens, who founded Spark Genetics, put their heads together. That company has been supporting breeding companies with genetics issues since 2018. “When the pandemic began, the laboratory had to partially close. We started asking ourselves how we could offer the market something that was much needed. That had to be a reliable, sensitive pathogen test that anyone could perform on-site,” says Rogier.

Testing before symptoms show
The test works pre-symptomatically, meaning you can test for the virus’ presence early. Rogier draws a parallel with COVID-19. “You can now do a self-test for that. But, that’s an antigen test you use when you’re already showing symptoms.” In the case of the coronavirus, for example, a runny nose.

One of the ToBRFV’s symptoms is spots on the fruit or signs on leaves. “Antigen tests, however, aren’t as reliable as PCR tests, and their lower sensitivity means they don’t work pre-symptomatically. You can also only test two to three plants at once,” Rogier explains.

Leaf material
Currently, growers can test 60 plants at a time using Spark Radar test kits. Testing can be done in three ways. “We started with leaf samples. A piece of leaf the size of a fingernail is enough. Growers collect the leaf sample in a bag we provide, and once collected, testing can begin.”

The test kits include the test material and hardware so that growers can run the tests themselves. “We’ve developed equipment to read the tests. We use magnetic and sensing racks for that. The magnetic rack lets us extract the virus from the sample, which helps ensure our tests’ high sensitivity,” Van der Voort continues.

A part of the test kit. The white container is lined with magnets. Detection is done using a different rack.

Surface and water tests
Growers, however, prefer to test more than just leaf material. “There’s plenty of market demand for swab tests too, which allows for testing for the presence of the virus on things like carts or blades. It’s like the cotton swab you use in your throat and nose when doing a COVID-19 self-test.”

They developed a third testing protocol for water. “Growers can test for the ToBRFV in, say, their drainage system,” Rogier elaborates. These last two testing methods are currently in their final market introduction stages. “We’re fully in the testing phase for these new applications and are using trial feedback to make the swab and water test kits are durable as possible.” The company plans to market these two testing kits in December commercially.

Spark Radar also wants to start offering the kits internationally, and this fledgling company has taken the first steps toward that. “A large North American party has been using our test for several months. They want to deploy it more widely during the next harvest period. We have a commitment from a Dutch party with overseas farms too. They want to use our tests outside the Netherlands,” states Rogier.

A virus test must be reliable. The test kits, thus, include a clear manual (you can also watch an online video). For now, it is in Dutch and English, but the company wants to include other languages as well. “We’re currently focusing on producing the tests. We’ve gained new clients after presenting the test at a recent event.”

Testing for other pathogens
ToBRFV is undoubtedly receiving global attention. That begs the question: Does Spark Radar have the clout to help growers combat this virus? Spark Radar’s co-founder thinks so. “We were recently chosen to participate in the Foodvalley and government investment fund, InvestNL’s Fast Lane program. We had to give an answer to what’s needed to become even more influential, scale up and maintain our test’s current and projected speed.”

That speed does not only apply to the ToBRFV but to other plant viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Spark Radar is also working on a test kit for cucumber fur virus and Pepino mosaic virus in tomatoes. “Those will be similar tests to the ToBRFV ones,” concludes Rogier.

For more information:
Rogier van der Voort
Spark Radar
8 Padualaan
3584 CH, Utrecht, NL
Email: rogier@sparkgenetics.com 
Email: info@sparkradar.bio 
Website: www.sparkradar.bio

Publication date: Fri 25 Nov 2022

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