- An unidentified wheat virus has agricultural scientists
in Kansas scratching their heads. The pathogen causes wheat leaves to yellow
and die, but it's not caused by wheat streak mosaic, head death or freezing.
- "We're pretty sure it's a virus," said wheat
breeder Joe Martin, who works at the Kansas State University research station
at Hays. "It showed up early and, at first glance, we thought it was
wheat streak mosaic. But it's not. It kills the oldest leaves of the plant
and finally kills the head." Researchers don't know what the virus
is, where it came from, or how it spreads.
- Martin said he's seen evidence of the virus in almost
every field he's checked in western Kansas, but it hasn't taken over the
crop. He encouraged farmers to be on the lookout when checking their fields.
- Dallas Seifers, a plant pathology professor at Fort Hays
State University, is trying to determine how the pathogen works, and what
it might be.
- "It's possible that this is something that has been
identified somewhere else in the world, even something that has shown up
in a different crop, corn or rice or something," Seifers said.
- Seifers, with the help of some virologists in Winnipeg,
Canada, is trying to identify the protein that causes the virus' symptoms.
That work is complicated by the fact that most affected plants found in
the field are already dead. Seifers is trying to grow his own supply of
infected plants to study, but the effort hasn't been as successful as he
- Once researchers identify the protein's genetic sequence,
they can compare it to known pathogens to find a match, or one that is
in the same family.
- Seifers said it's possible that the virus is showing
up now because of recent unusual weather patterns, and that it wouldn't
show up in a normal year.
- "We're just happy that it is not in large enough
numbers to have an economic impact this year, and we hope it will be spotty
if it shows up next year," he said.
- ProMED-mail email@example.com
- [A 28-kD protein has been specifically associated with
infected plants. More research is needed to determine the mode of spread
of the pathogen. Also needed is more information about the protein and
its relationship to disease expression. - Mod.DH] ..........mpp/dh/pg/lm
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging
Diseases" message board at: http://www.clickitnews.com/ubbthreads/postlist.php?Cat=&Board=emergingdiseases
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