Bulb diseases, viruses

J.E. Shields jshields@indy.net
Mon, 04 Jun 2007 05:53:42 PDT
Hi Joe and all,

Some 30 years back, I had a wonderful collection of Hippeastrum species, 
almost all from Len Doran.  Then I got mosaic virus in it somehow.  I lost 
lots and lots of rare bulbs to the virus.  We even tried treating the 
plants with some experimental animal/plant health drugs at the time, with 
no useful results.

It was probably Hippeastrum Mosaic Virus, which belongs to the poty virus 
group.  At that time, so far as I knew then, there were no tests for plant 
viruses outside research labs.  The research labs I worked for were not 
interested in plant viruses; and I was in diabetes research, even farther 
removed from plant pathlogy.

I had some Clivia plants two or three years ago that looked "virused" to 
me, and we sent samples to a state lab for general plant virus 
testing.  The tests came back negative for all the viruses in the usual 
panel, including a group poty virus assay.  I think the tests were all 
ELISA assays.  I now suspect that the clivias that look virused may instead 
have a systemic fungal infection of some sort, but I've not pursued that 
line so far.  At least fugal infections should be treatable.

Nerine, especially the broad leaf forms like hybrids of sarniensis or 
bowdenii, tend to show mosaic leaf symptoms when they get fertilizer.  The 
late Sir Peter Smithers thought that the plants harbor latent virus, 
perhaps virus genes integrated into their chromosomes, which are expressed 
only when the plants receive some sort of growth stimulation, such as from 
excess fertilizer.  Again, no one pursued this line into the plant 
pathology labs, so far as I know.  This effect is well known in bacteria 
and in animals, of course.

The economics of studying the pathology of niche plants, like Crinum, 
Nerine, even of Hippeastrum, are such that nobody around here does it.  The 
only assays available at the state labs are for those plants grown as crops 
in large commercial agriculture.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana (USA)

At 11:25 PM 6/3/2007 -0500, you wrote:
>Hi Gang,
>I've been intrigued by bulb viruses since the topic came up here a few years
>back and on the IBS.  I've scoured the WWW, scientific publications and have
>written to colleages around the world to collect information about viruses
>on Crinums.
>Conroe TX

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:    http://www.shieldsgardens.com/
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Tel. ++1-317-867-3344     or      toll-free 1-866-449-3344 in USA

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