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Virus Diseases of Tropical and Subtropical Crops

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This book describes interactions of plant viruses with hosts and transmission vectors in an agricultural context. Starting with an overview of virus biology, economics and management, chapters then address economically significant plant diseases of tropical and subtropical crops. For each disease, symptoms, distribution, economic impact, causative virus, taxonomy, host range, transmission, diagnostic methods and management strategies are discussed.

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1: Viruses Affecting Tropical and Subtropical Crops: Biology, Diversity, Management



Viruses Affecting Tropical and

Subtropical Crops: Biology,

Diversity, Management

Gustavo Fermin,1* Jeanmarie Verchot,2 Abdolbaset

Azizi3 and Paula Tennant4

Instituto Jardín Botánico de Mérida, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela; 2Department of Entomology and

Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma,

USA; 3Department of Plant Pathology, Faculty of Agriculture, Tarbiat

Modares University, Tehran, Iran; 4Department of Life Sciences,

The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica


1.1  Introduction

Viruses are the most abundant biological entities throughout marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They interact with all life forms, including archaea, bacteria and eukaryotic organisms and are present in natural or agricultural ecosystems, essentially wherever life forms can be found (Roossinck, 2010). The concept of a virus challenges the way we define life, especially since the recent discoveries of viruses that possess ribosomal genes.

These discoveries include the surprisingly large viruses of the Mimiviridae (Claverie and


2: Banana Bunchy Top



Banana Bunchy Top

Niyongere Célestin,1* Aman Bonaventure

Omondi2 and Guy Blomme3

ISABU, Bujumbura, Burundi; 2BIOVERSITY International,

Bujumbura, Burundi; 3BIOVERSITY International,

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


2.2  Importance of Banana as the

Main Host Plant of Banana Bunchy

Top Disease

2.1  Introduction

Banana bunchy top disease (BBTD) is caused by Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV), which is transmitted by the aphid vector Pentalonia nigronervosa Coquerel and through infected planting materials. It is one of the most economically important diseases in many banana-producing areas of Africa, Asia and the South Pacific (­ Furuya et al., 2005; Hooks et al., 2009). Between 1913 and 1920, the banana-growing industry in Australia was almost completely destroyed by the disease

(Magee, 1927; Hooks et al., 2009). In the

1990s, the first severe outbreak of BBTD in Africa was estimated to have reduced banana production in the Nkhatabay and Nkhotakota districts of Malawi from 3500 ha to about 800 ha (Soko et al., 2009; Kumar et al., 2011). In the Great Lakes countries of Africa, about 90% yield loss has been reported in severely BBTD-infected banana plantations in the Rusizi valley in Burundi


3: Wheat Dwarf



Wheat Dwarf

Isabelle Abt1,2 and Emmanuel Jacquot1*

INRA-Cirad-SupAgro Montpellier, Montpellier, France;

Bayer S.A.S./Bayer CropScience, Lyon, France



3.1  Introduction

Cereals can be infected by a vast range of pathogens of which Wheat dwarf virus (WDV, family Geminiviridae, genus Mastrevirus), the aetiological agent of wheat dwarf disease

(WDD), is one of the most damaging of all.

WDV is exclusively transmitted from plant to plant by leafhoppers. Very few options are available for the farmers to control this pathogen in the field. Indeed, the lack of genetic resistance against WDV in cereal germplasm, the rare sources of genetic tolerance and the absence of anti-viral molecules lead to the use of indirect management methods such as the modification of cultivation practices and/ or use of insecticides to protect cereal crops from WDV infections.

Even though WDD can be associated with important economical and agronomical impacts, scientific knowledge on this pathosystem and the epidemiology of the disease are still limited. Only a few studies on WDV have been published after three decades between the first report of wheat dwarf-like symptoms back in the 1960s and the description of WDD outbreaks in the 1990s (e.g. Vacke,


4: Cassava Brown Streak



Cassava Brown Streak

James P. Legg,1* P. Lava Kumar2 and Edward E. Kanju1

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture,

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; 2International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria


4.1  Introduction: Disease and Symptoms

4.1.2  Symptoms

4.1.1  First reports and disease aetiology

The earliest studies investigating virus diseases of cassava were initiated in the north-­ western part of what is now Tanzania during the 1930s. It was during this period that a ‘mosaic’-like disease was observed with characteristics that were distinct from cassava mosaic disease (CMD), which had been described several decades previously

(Warburg, 1894). The cassava ‘brown streak’ disease (CBSD), like CMD, appeared to be a graft-transmissible systemic condition, but unlike CBSD, it produced distinctive foliar symptoms that were most prominent on lower mature leaves and was associated with an unusual root rot phenomenon (Storey, 1936). Although Storey

(1936) considered the disease to have a viral aetiology, it was not until several decades later that molecular studies identified the causal viruses (Monger et al., 2001a) and Koch’s postulates were fulfilled (Winter et al., 2010). For much of its history,


5: Cassava Mosaic



Cassava Mosaic

Olufemi J. Alabi,1* Rabson M. Mulenga2 and James P. Legg3

Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology, Texas A&M

AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Weslaco,

Texas, USA; 2Zambia Agriculture Research Institute,

Mount Makulu Central Research Station, Lusaka, Zambia;


International Institute of Tropical Agriculture,

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


5.1  General Introduction

The global cassava development strategy launched by the Food and Agriculture

Organization of the United Nations in Rome in 2000 concluded that:

. . . cassava could become the raw material base for an array of processed products that will effectively increase demand for the crop and contribute to agricultural transformation and economic growth in developing countries ( ag/agp/agpc/gcds/).

Although cassava is currently consumed by over 800 million people in Africa and is the third most important source of calories in the tropics, the vision of the Food and Agriculture

Organization would nevertheless represent a major increase in the global significance of a crop that is still largely cultivated by resource-poor farmers utilizing traditional farming tools and practices. A native to South


6: Cucumber Mosaic



Cucumber Mosaic

Masarapu Hema,1 Pothur Sreenivasulu2 and P. Lava Kumar3*

Department of Virology, Sri Venkateswara University,

Tirupati, India; 2Formerly Department of Virology,

Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, India; 3International

Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria


6.1  Introduction

Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) causes significant economic losses in several agricultural and horticultural crops worldwide (Jacquemond, 2012). The virus was first reported as the causal agent of diseases inflicting cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and muskmelon

(Cucumis melo) in Michigan and cucumber in New York in 1916 (Palukaitis et al., 1992).

It has since been listed as a virus of greatest economic importance in cucurbits (Cucurbita spp.), pepper (Capsicum annuum, C. frutescens), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), celery (Apium graveolens), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and banana

(Musa spp.). Forage legumes and ornamentals are also affected by CMV (Gallitelli, 2000,

2002). Economic losses in crops are highest in field-grown vegetables and ornamentals, and pasture legumes (García-Arenal and Palukaitis, 2008; Jacquemond, 2012; Makkouk et al., 2012; Moury and Verdin, 2012; Lecoq and Desbiez, 2012).


7: Potato Mosaic and Tuber Necrosis



Potato Mosaic and Tuber Necrosis

 Mohamad Chikh-Ali and Alexander V. Karasev*

 Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences,

 University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA

7.1  Introduction: The Aetiologic

Agent, Disease Symptoms,

Distribution and Economic


Potato virus Y (PVY), the aetiological agent of potato mosaic or potato tuber necrotic ringspot disease (PTNRD), is the most economically important and devastating virus infecting potato crops worldwide (Singh et al., 2008;

Gray et al., 2010; Karasev and Gray, 2013b).

PVY is the type species of the genus Potyvirus, family Potyviridae, the second largest family of plant viruses after Geminiviridae.

The virus has a single-stranded positive-­sense

RNA genome of about 9.7 kb with a covalently linked VPg protein at the 5′ terminus and a poly-A tail at the 3′ terminus (Adams et al.,

2012). The genome RNA of PVY has two non-­ translated regions, 5′ and 3′, flanking a single open reading frame that encodes for a large polyprotein. Upon translation, the polyprotein is co- and/or post-translationally cleaved by three viral-specific proteases, P1, HC-Pro and


8: Soybean Mosaic



Soybean Mosaic

Masarapu Hema,1 Basavaprabhu L. Patil,2

V. Celia Chalam3 and P. Lava Kumar4*

Department of Virology, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, India;

National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, IARI

(ICAR-NRCPB), Pusa Campus, New Delhi, India; 3National Bureau of

Plant Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBPGR), Pusa, New Delhi, India;


International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria



8.1  Introduction

Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) is an important annual grain legume widely cultivated between 55°N and 55°S of the equator during warm moist periods for food, cooking oil, animal feed, biofuel and several other culinary and industrial uses (Graham and Vance,

2003; Pimentel and Patzek, 2008). Soybean seed contains more than 40% protein enriched with essential amino acids, about 20% oil, lecithin and vitamins A and D (Sakai and

Kogiso, 2008). The crop was first domesticated in China around the 11th century bc.

However, its cultivation outside the Asian continent was not recorded until the 18th century ad; first in Europe, followed by the


9: Yam Mosaic



Yam Mosaic

Angela O. Eni*

Department of Biological Sciences, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria

9.1 Introduction

Yam mosaic virus (YMV), genus Potyvirus, infects and causes mild to severe leaf symptoms both in domesticated edible yam species and their wild relatives (Thouvenel and Fauquet, 1979; Goudou-Urbino et al., 1996a) in all locations where yams are grown (Africa, the

Caribbean, Latin America and the South Pacific)

(Goudou-Urbino et al., 1996b; Hughes et al.,

1997; Eni et al., 2008, 2010; Odedara et al.,

2011). Several other potyviruses described in various yam-growing countries in the 1970s and

1980s including Dioscorea green-banding mosaic virus reported in Togo (Reckhaus and

Nienhaus, 1981), yam virus in Nigeria (Terry,

1976), and Dioscorea trifida virus reported in the Caribbean and in South America (Migliori and Cadilhac, 1976), are synonymous with YMV and were all found to be related to YMV both serologically and in host range (Porth et al.,

1987; Goudou-Urbino et al., 1996a). Japanese yam mosaic virus (JYMV), another Potyvirus isolated from D. japonica in Japan in 1974 was reported as a strain of YMV (Okuyama and Saka,


10: Sugarcane Mosaic



Sugarcane Mosaic

Laura Silva-Rosales,1* Ricardo I. Alcalá-Briseño2 and Fulgencio Espejel1

Plant-Virus Interaction Laboratory, Department of Genetic

Engineering at Cinvestav-Unidad Irapuato, Guanajuato,

Mexico; 2Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida,

Gainesville, Florida, USA


Monocot species, in particular grasses, are cultivated over large areas worldwide for human and animal consumption and lately for biomass energy production. However, viruses like

Sugarcane mosaic virus (SCMV), alone or in conjunction with other viruses or microorganisms, have emerged in some regions as devastating problems for their cultivation. Here we present the taxonomy, distribution, diversity and economic importance of this virus that infects maize and sugarcane as well as provide some insights into its evolution. Efforts to obtain resistance through classical breeding and transgenic approaches are also described.

10.1  Structure, Taxonomy and Diversity

SCMV, a member of the genus Potyvirus in the

Potyviridae family of plant viruses, belongs to the replication group IV. As such, its genome consists of a single-stranded (+) RNA molecule. Its length of 9.6 kb is encapsidated by approximately 2,000 monomers of the coat protein (CP) forming flexuous filaments of about 750 nm in length (Riechmann et al.,


11: Papaya Ringspot



Papaya Ringspot

Gustavo Fermin,1* Melaine Randle2 and Paula Tennant2,3

Instituto Jardín Botánico de Mérida, Faculty of Sciences,

Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela; 2Biotechnology

Centre, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus,

Jamaica; 3Department of Life Sciences, The University of the

West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica


11.1  Introduction: Disease and


Papaya ringspot disease caused by Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) is perhaps the most serious disease of papaya (Tennant et al.,

2007; Tripathi et al., 2008), a crop that is well adapted to intensive commercial orchards and backyard stands in tropical and subtropical regions (Purcifull et al., 1984). High prevalence of the disease has been noted in the

Caribbean islands, the USA (Florida, Texas and Hawaii), South America, the Philippines,

Taiwan, Thailand and the southern region of China (Gonsalves, 1998) as far back as the

1930s (Fermin et al., 2010). The aetiological agent exists as two serologically indistinguishable biotypes (Purcifull et al., 1984;


12: Tomato Spotted Wilt



Tomato Spotted Wilt

Tsung-Chi Chen1,2 and Fuh-Jyh Jan3,4*

Department of Biotechnology, Asia University, Wufeng,

Taichung, Taiwan; 2Department of Medical Research, China

Medical University Hospital, China Medical University,

Taichung, Taiwan; 3Department of Plant Pathology, National

Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan; 4Agricultural

Extension Center, National Chung Hsing University,

Taichung, Taiwan


12.1  Introduction

Tomato spotted wilt disease was first reported in Australia in 1915 and later identified as a virus-infecting disease caused by Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) (Brittlebank, 1919;

Samuel et al., 1930). Initially, geographically distinct TSWV isolates were classified in a particular ‘group’ on the basis of particle morphology, host range and transmission by thrips (Matthews, 1982). Until Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) was discovered (Law and Moyer, 1990), this group was proposed as the genus Tospovirus and assigned to the family Bunyaviridae by the International

Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses in 1991 based on virion morphology and genome organization (Francki et al., 1991). Currently, tospoviruses have become a worldwide problem. Some tospoviruses, such as TSWV, Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV), Groundnut bud necrosis virus (GBNV) and Watermelon silver mottle virus (WSMoV), are of global importance. TSWV is the most important tospovirus with a worldwide distribution that includes


13: Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl



Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl

Cindy-Leigh Hamilton,1 Sudeshna MazumdarLeighton,2 Icolyn Amarakoon3 and Marcia Roye1*

Biotechnology Centre, The University of the West Indies,

Mona Campus, Jamaica; 2Department of Botany, Delhi

University, Delhi, India; 3Department of Basic Medical

Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona

Campus, Jamaica


13.1  Introduction

Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), a geminivirus of the genus Begomovirus and the family Geminiviridae, has impacted

­tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) cultivation world­ wide in tropical and subtropical regions for many years (Picó et al., 1996). The virus was first reported in the Jordan Valley,

Israel, in the 1940s. Years later, it was isolated

(Czosnek et al., 1988) and sequenced (Navot et al., 1991), and was among the first begomoviruses shown to consist of a single genomic

DNA molecule. TYLCV also infects several other economically important crop plants including pepper (Capsicum spp.), bean (Pha­ seolus vulgaris) and tobacco (Nicotiana spp.), as well as numerous weed species (Roye et al.,


14: Tristeza




Latanya C. Fisher,1 Paula Tennant2 and Vicente J. Febres1*

Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida,

Florida, USA; 2Department of Life Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica


14.1  Introduction

­resistant sour orange rootstock in the Mediterranean and the Americas. This particular

Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) is the most eco- rootstock had excellent agronomic qualities nomically devastating viral plant pathogen such as cold hardiness, enhancement of fruit and is responsible for the death and loss of quality and high adaptability to adverse soil productivity of approximately 100 million conditions (Moreno et al., 2008). However, citrus trees worldwide (Timmer et al., 2000; CTV outbreaks grew problematic to the citrus

Moreno et al., 2008; Saponari et al., 2013). industry due to: (i) the loss of trees and proReports of the CTV epidemics have been re- duction that occurred from CTV-susceptible corded in several countries, including ­Argentina, genotypes grafted on the widely used sour


15: Rice Tungro



Rice Tungro

Indranil Dasgupta*

Department of Plant Molecular Biology, University of Delhi,

New Delhi, India

15.1  Introduction

Rice tungro bacilliform virus (RTBV) and

Rice tungro spherical virus (RTSV) are two viruses responsible for the rice tungro disease (RTD). The disease has been known for almost a half a century and has been intensively investigated across various countries in Asia. Today, a large volume of information is available on the viruses, their transmission by insect vectors, their gene functions, the pathological response in rice plants upon infection, and the rice genes that mediate resistance to the viruses. This chapter summarizes what is known about the pathogens and the disease, and discusses the prospects of conventional and biotechnological approaches to controlling RTD − mainly by strengthening the RNA-based defence pathway in rice.

15.2  Disease Symptoms

RTD is characterized by orange–yellow foliar discoloration and stunting of plants to

­almost half the normal size upon maturity


16: Sweet Potato Virus Disease



Sweet Potato Virus Disease

Augustine Gubba* and Benice J. Sivparsad

Department of Plant Pathology, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal,

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

16.1  Introduction

Sweet potato is ranked as the seventh most important food crop in the world (Woolfe,

1992; FAOSTAT, 2012). Among the major starch staples, it has the largest rates of biomass and nutrient production per unit area per unit time (Woolfe, 1992). Because of its good performance under adverse farming conditions and high carbohydrate and vitamin content, sweet potato has been identified as an ideal starch staple in subsistence economies (Mukasa et al., 2003; Wambugu, 2003;

Naylor et al., 2004; Loebenstein et al., 2009).

Virus infection is the main limiting factor in sweet potato production worldwide

(Allemann et al., 2004). Moreover, viral diseases rank second after sweet potato weevils as restraining biotic factors and can cause considerable yield reduction of up to


17: Mealybug Wilt Disease



Mealybug Wilt Disease

Cherie Gambley1* and John Thomas2

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Stanthorpe,

Queensland, Australia; 2Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, Brisbane,

Queensland, Australia


17.1  Introduction

Mealybug wilt disease (MWD) is a serious field disease of pineapples worldwide that was first described in Hawaii in 1910 (German et al.,

1992). Depending on the age of the plant at the onset of the disease, reductions in fruit yields range from 30% to 55% in Hawaii (Sether and

Hu, 2002a). The disease is often referred to as isolated wilt as it typically occurs in secluded patches within the crop or along the edges

(Sether et al., 2010) as shown in Fig. 17.1.

MWD is thought to be caused by a complex involving viruses, mealybugs and ants. The viruses are transmitted by mealybugs, which in turn are tended by ants. Although a number of distinct viruses have been associated with the disease, the identity of the causal agent(s) has not been determined unequivocally.


18: Viruses affecting tropical and subtropical crops: future perspectives



Viruses affecting tropical and subtropical crops: future perspectives

Gustavo Fermin1* and Paula Tennant2

Instituto Jardín Botánico de Mérida, Faculty of Sciences,

Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela; 2Department of Life Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona

Campus, Jamaica


Fifteen chapters spanned a range of highly divergent taxonomic groups of plant viruses, their effects on host phenotypes and implications for the management of virus diseases in tropical and subtropical agriculture. Although the diseases covered can be grouped under two categories, namely major (or traditional) virus diseases versus minor diseases of less economic significance and/or limited geographic distribution, all are considered equally important with respect to maintaining the sanitary status and food security of a region. Some of the diseases covered in this book are initiated by infections with a single virus pathogen that is transmitted by only one or two vector species. The aetiology is less conclusive for others. At the extreme, there are diseases elicited by a complex of different viruses or by a complex involving a number of different viruses along with different groups of insects. Papaya ringspot is an example of a disease caused by a virus with a narrow host range, infecting only papaya, its wild relatives and members of two or so other plant families under natural conditions.



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