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Blueberry necrotic ring blotch virus in Southern Highbush Blueberry: Insights into In Planta and In-Field Movement

Robinson, Tanisha S., Scherm, Harald, Brannen, Phillip M., Allen, Renee, Deom, C. Michael
Plant disease 2016 v.100 no.8 pp. 1575-1579
Blueberry red ringspot virus, Vaccinium corymbosum, blueberries, defoliation, disease incidence, emerging diseases, leaf blade, plant diseases and disorders, plant viruses, planting, progeny, shoots, softwood, vegetative propagation, viruses, Southeastern United States
Blueberry necrotic ring blotch virus (BNRBV) causes an emerging disease of southern highbush blueberry (SHB) in the southeastern United States. Disease incidence and severity vary considerably from year to year within the same planting. Experiments were conducted to determine how the virus spreads in the field. Leaf tissue from symptomatic field plants tested positive for BNRBV in 2011, whereas the same plants were asymptomatic in 2012 and tested negative for the virus. Symptomatic and asymptomatic leaves from individual shoots were tested for the presence of the virus, and symptomatic leaves tested positive (100%), whereas 65.4% of the asymptomatic leaves from the same shoots tested negative. Leaves were selected in which half the leaf blade was symptomatic and the other half was not; symptomatic leaf halves tested positive (100%), whereas 76.0% of the asymptomatic halves from the same leaf tested negative for the virus. When virus-free, potted trap plants were interspersed in the field among established plants that had shown disease symptoms the previous year, disease onset in trap plants was observed 2 to 3 weeks after disease onset in field plants. In a separate experiment, asymptomatic softwood cuttings were collected from mother plants symptomatic for BNRBV, rooted, and monitored for symptom development for a period of 12 to 27 months. No BNRBV symptoms were observed in the progeny, whereas disease incidence was high for cuttings taken at the same time from plants infected with Blueberry red ringspot virus used as a control. Collectively, these studies suggest that BNRBV does not infect SHB plants systemically and is not transmitted through vegetative propagation, and that the virus likely does not persist in plants after natural defoliation in the fall.