Combating cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus

Mar 09, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are working to give melon growers some relief from cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus, or CYSDV.

In 2006, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant pathologist Bill Wintermantel with the U.S. Agricultural Research Station in Salinas, Calif., and university colleagues identified the plant disease that growers in California's Imperial Valley and nearby Yuma, Ariz., noticed was spreading through their cucurbit fields. Cucurbit crops affected included cantaloupe and honeydew melons.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

CYSDV, a whitefly-transmitted virus originally from the Middle East, was identified by Wintermantel and colleagues in the melon-production region of California, Arizona, and Sonora, Mexico, in the fall of 2006. They also identified CYSDV a year later in Florida. Though it remains unclear how the virus spread to California and Florida, virus samples taken from both regions indicate they are essentially genetically identical to one another, according to Wintermantel.

In an effort to assist growers, ARS horticulturist and research leader Jim McCreight at Salinas is working to develop CYSDV-resistant melons. McCreight describes as serendipitous his discovery in 2006 of resistance to CYSDV in an exotic, salad-type melon from India that was being tested for resistance to another disease.

After screening more than 400 melon accessions from India in the field, McCreight found a few plants in several other vegetable-type melons from India that show promise for resistance to the virus. Work continues on developing a resistant melon that growers in the southwestern United States could plant.

McCreight's field tests showed that can only be effective in the desert southwest when whitefly populations are controlled. According to McCreight, hundreds of whiteflies constantly feeding on the plants assure high frequency of infection by the virus. Continued feeding by the whiteflies, particularly in summer-planted melons grown in high temperatures (more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime), further weakens the plants. The result is often complete loss of fruit yield and quality or plant death.

Melons from plants infected with CYSDV may appear normal, but often have reduced sugar levels, resulting in poor marketability. The virus is spread by the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, a small, sap-sucking insect that carries the virus from plant-to-plant as it feeds.

Several local weeds and important alternate crops such as alfalfa and lettuce were identified as hosts of CYSDV. However, unlike cucurbits, these newly identified crop hosts were symptomless carriers of the virus and their yield was unaffected. Wintermantel and his colleagues found the is capable of infecting plants in seven plant families in addition to the Cucurbitaceae family.

Explore further: More questions than answers as mystery of domestication deepens

More information: Read more about this research in the March 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/mar11/melons0311.htm

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Whitefly spreads emerging plant viruses

Jan 18, 2007

A tiny whitefly is responsible for spreading a group of plant viruses that cause devastating disease on food, fiber, and ornamental crops, say plant pathologists with The American Phytopathological Society (APS).

New romaine lettuce lines launched

Jan 18, 2011

California and Arizona, the two largest lettuce-producing states, account for more than 95% of the lettuce grown in the United States. Since the early 1990s, the states' lettuce crops have been subject to ...

Tracking Virus Resistance Genes in Watermelon Made Easier

Dec 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Finding watermelon genes that confer resistance to the devastating zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) has just been made easier, thanks to molecular markers developed by Agricultural Research ...

New Peas Unfazed by Viral Bully

Dec 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Four advanced dry pea breeding lines that tolerate the pea enation mosaic virus (PEMV) -- a “scourge” of Pacific West pea crops -- have been identified by Agricultural Research Service ...

Genes identified to protect brassicas from damaging disease

Nov 01, 2007

Scientists have identified a new way to breed brassicas, which include broccoli, cabbage and oilseed rape, resistant to a damaging virus. Their discovery has characterised a form of resistance that appears to be durable, ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Atom probe assisted dating of oldest piece of earth

(Phys.org) —It's a scientific axiom: big claims require extra-solid evidence. So there were skeptics in 2001 when University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience professor John Valley dated an ancient crystal ...

ISEE-3 comes to visit Earth

(Phys.org) —It launched in 1978. It was the first satellite to study the constant flow of solar wind streaming toward Earth from a stable orbit point between our planet and the sun known as the Lagrangian ...