Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New plant virus in North America, virus family know for diseases in corn, wheat, and sugarcane

Tentatively called the switchgrass mosaic-associated virus 1, it is a member of the mastrevirus genus.  Mosaic virus symptoms are usually a discoloration of plant parts, the specific pattern, affect parts, or coloration varies by the virus, and can also cause stunting, poor yield, and even plant death.

Alfalfa Mosaic Virus (Alfamovirus AMV) on potato by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University,
As viruses are little more than genetic material wrapped in a protective protein coat, they are classified by their genome.  To be included in the mastrevirus genus, the virus must share at least 75% of the genome with another mastrevirus.  Previously described mastreviruses have been found in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia and have been responsible for reduced yield in corn, wheat, and sugarcane. Mastreviruses are primarily transmitted through leafhoppers and as such, the prevalence of infected crops rise and fall with leafhopper populations.  As this is a newly described virus, the current spread of it is unknown, as well as the vector, and has at this time only been found in switchgrass.

The article describing the discovery: First report of a new crop virus in North America