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P.A. Stack, L.B. Stack, and F.A. Drummond

A mail survey of greenhouse growers was conducted in 1994 and 1995 to determine the presence and importance of western flower thrips (WFT), Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande, in Maine greenhouses in growing years 1993 and 1994. Respondents were licensed growers with at least 1000 ft2 (93 m2) of greenhouse growing area. The survey objectives were to develop a grower demographic profile; determine the incidence of WFT and two WFT-vectored plant viruses, tomato spotted wilt (TSWV) and impatiens necrotic spot (INSV); and identify current WFT management strategies. The survey shows that Maine greenhouse growers are seasonal, experienced and retail oriented. Their growing area averages less than 10,000 ft2 (929 m2) and they produce a diverse crop mix and choose to import production stock as much as propagate it themselves. Both WFT and TSWV/INSV have increased in severity in Maine greenhouses over the past 10 years. Larger, year-round greenhouses are more likely to experience infestations of WFT and higher virus incidence. An integrated pest management (IPM) strategy is employed by the majority of growers surveyed. Insecticide application is the primary tactic used to control WFT. Fewer than 4% of the growers use natural enemies to control thrips. However, 63% responded that future research in pest management should focus on biological control.

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Mario Orozco-Santos, Octavio Perez-Zamora, and Oscar Lopez-Arriaga

The effect of floating rowcover and transparent polyethylene mulch was evaluated on insect populations, virus disease control, yield, and growth of muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) cv. Durango in a tropical region of Colima state, Mexico. Aphids (Aphis gossypii Glover and other species), sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci Gennadius), beetles (Diabrotica spp.), and leafminer (Lyriormyza sativae Blanchard) were completely excluded by the floating rowcover while the plots were covered (until perfect flowering). Transparent mulch reduced aphids and whitefly populations, but did not show effect on leafminer infestation. The appearance of virus diseases of plants was delayed for 2 weeks by floating rowcover with respect to control (bare soil). Also, the transparent mulch reduced the virus incidence. The yield and number of fruit were positively influenced by floating rowcover and transparent mulch. Plot with transparent mulch combined with floating rowcover yielded nearly 4-fold higher (50.9 t·ha–1) than that plots with bare soil (13.1 t·ha–1). The yield from plots with floating row cover on bare soil was of 38.3 t·ha–1, while in the transparent mulch plots it was of 23.1 t·ha–1. The results of this work shows the beneficial effects of floating rowcover and transparent mulch in dry tropical conditions.

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Charles A. Powell, Robert R. Pelosi, and Phyllis A. Rundell

None of 4190 sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] nursery trees of `Hamlin', `Midsweet', `Navel', and `Valencia' sampled from five Florida citrus nurseries were infected with a decline-inducing isolate of citrus tristeza virus (CTV) as judged by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using isolate-specific monoclonal antibodies. Two of the nurseries had a relatively high level of infection (37% to 100% of composite samples containing tissue from 10 trees) with nondecline-inducing (mild) isolates of CTV, depending on the cultivar. Three of the nurseries had a lower incidence of mild CTV (0% to 22% of 10 tree composite samples). No nursery was CTV-free. ELISA of individual trees used as budwood sources by the nurseries revealed that one tree out of 260 tested contained decline-inducing CTV, and 83 contained mild CTV. These results suggest that the budwood certification program adopted in 1997 has virtually eliminated decline-inducing CTV from commercial budwood supplies.

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John F. Murphy, Edward J. Sikora, Bernard Sammons, and Wojciech K. Kaniewski

Three processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) lines engineered to express the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) capsid protein (CP) gene were evaluated in the summers of 1995 and 1996 under high levels of naturally occurring CMV disease pressure. One tomato line expressed the capsid protein gene from a subgroup II isolate of CMV (line 11527), whereas two lines (12261 and 12295) expressed the capsid protein genes from a CMV subgroup I and a subgroup II isolate. Evaluation of CMV incidence based on symptomatic plants revealed that only 9% and 8% of the plants in line 11527 were infected in 1995 and 1996, respectively, 5 weeks after being transplanted. None of the plants in line 12261 developed symptoms in 1995, whereas 26% were symptomatic in 1996. There were no symptomatic plants in line 12295 in either the 1995 or the 1996 trial. In contrast to the CMV transgenic lines, 96% and 95% of the susceptible control plants were symptomatic by the 5-week rating period. CMV incidence in the CMV transgenic lines was much higher when infection was based on detection of virus by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). This was particularly true in the 1996 trial where no less than 97% of the plants within a treatment were determined to be infected. Though a relatively high percentage of the transgenic plants were infected, the amount of CMV that accumulated in these plants was significantly less than in the susceptible controls, which may explain the occurrence of the attenuated symptoms. Despite CMV infection of the transgenic lines in the Alabama field trials, the performance of these lines could be of practical value to growers.

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Juan C. Diaz-Perez, D. Bertrand, and D. Giddings

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) can cause serious damage to tomato, pepper, lettuce, and other crops. The virus is transmitted by several species of thrips. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of the time (t, days after transplanting) when TSWV symptoms first appeared on tomato plant size and fruit yield. Tomato (`Florida-47') plants were drip-irrigated and planted over black plastic mulch. The experiment was carried out in Tifton, Ga., during Spring 1999. High populations of thrips were detected since early stages of plant development, which resulted in a high incidence of TSWV. Plant fresh weight was significantly higher (r 2 = 0.632, n = 216) the later in plant development TSWV symptoms first appeared (i.e., with increasing t values). Total fruit production of individual plant linearly increased with increasing t values (r 2 = 0.664, n = 216). As with total fruit production, fruit marketable yield was also higher with increasing t values; however, marketable yield was significantly reduced even when plants were infected later in the season (t > 55 days after transplanting). Our results suggest that it is important to keep tomato plants free from TSWV as long as possible. This applies to both developing and developed plants.

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Arcenio Gutierrez-Estrada, Emma Zavaleta-Mejl̀a, and Gustavo Mora-Aguilera

Viruses associated to eight Alstroemeria varieties and the relationship of thrips density and environmental factors with Tomato Spotted Wilt (TSW) intensity as well as the TSW effect on yield were studied in `Rosario' in Central Mèxico. Using hosts range the viruses detected were Tomato Spotted Wilt Tospovirus (TSWV), Impatiens Necrotic Spot Tospovirus (INSV), Alstroemeria Mosaic Potyvirus (AlMV), Alstroemeria Streak Potyvirus (ASV), Arabis Mosaic Nepovirus (ArMV), and Cucumber Mosaic Cucumovirus (CMV). With serology it was confirmed the presence of TSWV in `Jubilee', `Rosario', and `Regina' varieties; INSV in `Anabel', `Jubilee', and `Red Sunset'; and AlMV in `Rosario', `Red Sunset', `Rosita', `Yellow King', `Jubilee'. and `Rojo Sangria'. TSWV and AlMV were found coinfecting `Rosario' plants. Five percent of plants were serologically positive to TSWV in the first flower harvest (25 Jan.-5 Apr.), 10% in the second (12 Ap.-21 June), and third (5 July-13 Sept.), and 18% in the last harvest (23 Sept.-6 Dec.). The highest peak density of thrips (520 to 630 individuals per sticky trap) were registered when the maximum temperature was higher than 35 °C and the relative humidity was between 40% to 60%. However, such peak density was not correlated with a significant increase of TSW incidence. Number and quality of inflorescences and the stem growth rate were significantly higher (P = 0.05) in plots with asymptomatic plants than that with plants showing putative symptoms of TSW.

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L.P. Brandenberger and R.P. Wiedenfeld

The squash leaf curl virus (SLCV), transmitted by the sweet potato whitefly (Bemesia tabaci biotype B), is widespread on fall-planted watermelon in the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend areas of south Texas. The objective of the study was to evaluate colored mulches for their effects on whitefly populations, virus incidence, and watermelon yield. Eleven polyethylene films were included as treatments in both a spring and fall study and were replicated five times in a randomized block design. Plastic mulches caused substantial improvement in melon yields (40%) in the spring crop, similar to responses obtained in other studies on cantaloupes. Fall yield increases due to the use of mulches did not occur. Whitefly populations were much lower in 1996 than they have been in previous years, therefore this was not an adequate test of its effects on whitefly behavior. Even so, there were indications in the fall crop that the use of plastic mulch tended to result in lower whitefly numbers. No evidence was found of any difference between the various mulch materials regarding whitefly counts.

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Arthur Villordon, Don La Bonte, and Robert Jarret

The presence of copia-like retrotransposon sequences in sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] was investigated. PCR-based amplification using primers to highly conserved copia-like reverse transcriptase sequences produced several products corresponding to the expected target size (≈300 bp) that were subsequently isolated and cloned. A random sample of the clones were sequenced and all six reading frames were translated into their corresponding amino acid sequences. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of 22 copia-like reverse transcriptase sequences corresponding to various subfamilies. The presence of several sequence families in the genome is indicative of past or recent transposition activity. Southern blot analysis suggested that these copia-like sequences were present in several hundred copies in the sweetpotato genome. Data also showed retrotransposon insertion polymorphisms between a limited sample of virus-tested and virus-infected sweetpotato clones, indicating putative activity and mobility. This investigation documented the presence of copia-like retrotransposon sequences in the sweetpotato genome. This is an important step in clarifying the possible association between mobile genetic elements and the unusually high incidence of somatic mutations that may result in clonal decline in sweetpotato and other asexually propagated crops. Data presented provides information on the possible use of retrotransposons as genetic markers for sweetpotato crop improvement.

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J.E. Brown, R.P. Yates, W.T. Hogue, C. Stevens, and V.A. Khan

Yellow crookneck `Dixie' hybrid summer squash, Cucurbita pepo L. var. melopeop Alef., was evaluated at E.V. Smith Research Center, Shorter, Alabama. Summer squash was grown in single rows spaced 6 feet apart. Plants were seeded 18 inches apart within 20-foot row plots. Treatments were: 1) black plastic mulch (BPM), 2) yellow painted plastic mulch (YPM), 3) white plastic mulch (WPM), 4) bare soil (BS), 5) aluminum painted plastic mulch (APM) and 6) bare soil with Diazinon insecticide (BSI). Aphid traps caught more aphids in BS or BPM plots than those from APM or YPM plots. The onset of mosaic disease incidence of squash infected with the two viruses identified as zucchini yellow mosaic and cucumber mosaic was delayed by as much as three weeks when compared to BSI or BS. Summer squash planted in APM, WPM, YPM and BPM produced 96%, 98%, 75% and 21%, respectively, more total squash yield than that produced on bare soil (control). A higher percentage of green squash (virus infected) was produced from plants grown over BPM (72%), BSI (68%), BS (59%), YPM (57%) or WPM (57%) than from APM (39%)

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Arcenio Gutièrrez-Estrada, Emma Zavaleta-Mejl̀a, and Gustavo Mora-Aguilera

Viruses associated to eight Alstroemeria varieties and the relationship of thrips density and environmental factors with Tomato Spotted Wilt (TSW) intensity as well as the TSW effect on yield were studied in `Rosario' in Central Mexico. Using hosts range the viruses detected were Tomato Spotted Wilt Tospovirus (TSWV), Impatiens Necrotic Spot Tospovirus (INSV), Alstroemeria Mosaic Potyvirus (AlMV), Alstroemeria Streak Potyvirus (ASV), Arabis Mosaic Nepovirus (ArMV) and Cucumber Mosaic Cucumovirus (CMV). With serology, the presence of TSWV was confirmed in `Jubilee', `Rosario', and `Regina'; INSV in `Anabel', `Jubilee', and `Red Sunset'; and AlMV in `Rosario', `Red Sunset', `Rosita', `Yellow King', `Jubilee', and `Rojo Sangria'. TSWV and AlMV were found coinfecting `Rosario' plants. Five percent of plants were serologically positive to TSWV in the first flower harvest (25 Jan.-5 Apr.), 10% in the second (12 Apr.-21 June), and third (5 July-13 Sept.) and 18% in the last harvest (24 Sept.-6 Dec.). The highest peak density of thrips (520 to 630 individuals per sticky trap) were registered when the maximum temperature was higher than 35 °C and the relative humidity was between 40% to 60%. However, such peak density was not correlated with a significant increase of TSW incidence. Number and quality of inflorescences and the stem growth rate were significantly higher (P = 0.05) in plots with asymptomatic plants than that with plants showing putative symptoms of TSW.