Transmission of Plant Viruses & Symptoms of Viral Infection

Transmission of Plant Viruses & Symptoms of Viral Infection

Transmission of Plant Viruses

The plant viruses are transmitted by following methods:

  1. Seed Transmission of Virus:

    Transmission through the seeds of the host plant was earlier considered to play a minor part in the spread of virus diseases. Recently Bennett (1969) listed 53 viruses which are transmitted by seeds of about 124 plant species. The seeds are important in the spread of a few viruses of legumes, wild cucumber, tomatoes, and curly top virus of beet sugar. In the latter case the seeds carry a high percentage of the virus. The virus, however, does not enter the embryo. It is carried in a portion of the seed of the diseased plants.

  2. Transmission by Vegetative Propagation:

    It is one of the chief methods of transmission of virus diseases especially of Potato, Rose, Sugarcane, Raspberry, Strawberry, Turnips, Bulb plants, fruit trees and many ornamentals. The vegetative parts, the infected plants such as the tubers, bulbs, roots, offshoots, buds and scions which are used for propagation, will contain the virus present in the parent. The new plants raised by the above -mentioned vegetative methods are nearly always infected.

  3. Transmission by Mechanical Means:

    Many mosaic viruses are transmitted mechanically from diseased plants to healthy ones by the following methods:

  1. By contact of infected and healthy leaves brought about by wind.
  2. By rubbing the juice of the diseased plant over the surface of the leaves of healthy plants.
  3. By grafting infected buds on to healthy plants.
  4. Agricultural implements also play quite an important part. The knife used for cutting the seed pieces and the pruning shears will spread the disease.
  5. Some viruses spread below ground by contact between the roots of diseased and healthy plants.
  6. Handing plants at planting time and in cultural operation will also help in the spread of viruses such as Sugar beet, Curly top virus and Cucumber mosaic virus.
  1. Transmission by Cuscuta:

    In many cases Dodder (Cuscuta) serves as a transmitting agent and an effective bridge between the infected host and the healthy plants by establishing intimate biological contact through its haustoria.

  2. Soil Transmission:

    Quite a number of viruses are transmitted through the soil. Common examples of soil borne viruses are Potato mosaic virus, Oat mosaic, Wheat mosaic, etc. In all these cases the disease is contracted from the soil.

  3. Insect Transmission:

    Some plant and animal viruses are spread and complete particles introduced into host cells by arthopod vectors and even by dog-bite as in rabies. Among the arthropods most important agents of spread of virus diseases are the insects. The insect which carries the disease is called a vector. The insect vectors which play a major role in the dissemination of plant viruses are the Aphids, Leafhoppers, Flee beetles, Scale insects, thirps and White flies. Most of the insect vectors are sucking insects. Aphids transmit more plant viruses than any other insects. Leafhoppers come next in the list. About three hundred plant virus disease are known to have insect vectors. The insect obtains virus through its mouth parts at the time of feeding on the diseased plant. It is then inoculated in the healthy plant by means of the mouth parts. Inoculation in many cases must be in a certain tissue or upon young leaves. The virus may remain active in the body of the vector for many days. Instances are, however, known when infectivity is soon lost. There are also cases where a vector cannot infect a healthy plant immediately after it has fed on a diseased plant. There is delay in the development of infective power within the vector. This period of development of infectivity for the virus within the vector is called the incubation period. The duration of the incubation period varies with different viruses from a few hours to days.

There also appears to be some relationship between the plant viruses and the insect vectors which transmit them. The precise nature of this relationship is still unknown. The virus disease of sugar beet known as curly leaf or curly top is spread by the leaf-hopper Circulifer tenellus. Other sucking insects which feed on sugar beet are unable to transmit this virus. On the other hand peach aphid is the vector of Sugar beet mosaic virus. The leafhopper does not transmit this virus. Thirps transmit the spotted-wilt virus. All vectors of yellow group of viruses are leafhoppers and of mosaic group are aphids.

  1. Transmission by Fungi:

    The first proof of the fungus as a vector of plant viruses was found by Gorgon in 1958. He found that the diseased lettuce was invariably infected by a soil chytrid, Olpidium. Later he discovered that the fungus acts as a reservoir and vector of the big vein virus. The virus acquired by the fungus remains in the zoospore. The latter germinates and produces the zoospores which function as infective agents and penetrate lettuce roots. Similarly tobacco necrosis virus has been reported by Teakle (1960) to enter roots of its host by the zoospores of O. brassicae.

  2. Some soil inhabiting viruses have nematode vectors:

    Animal viruses may gain access to the higher animals through the mouth and nose from dust or contaminated food. Beside infection from outside, virus may also be transmitted from cell to cell but the internal transmission need not be in the form of virus particles.

Symptoms of Viral Diseases

Symptoms are the visible effects which the pathogens cause in the host plants. Viruses produce a wide range of symptoms on their hosts. They are grouped under two main categories Primary and Systemic symptoms:

  1. Primary symptoms:

    They relate to viruses dispersed by mechanical means. They are the result of local reaction at the spot of inoculation. These are usually of two kinds, local lesions and clearing of veins. The local lesions appear in the form of spots or rings. They are the result of death of cells in this area. In Vein clearing there is clearing or chlorosis of tissue in or adjacent to the veins, consequently the veins of young leaves become conspicuous. Frequently a broad band of chlorotic tissue appears along the veins. These two symptoms, vein clearing and vein banding may be of short duration, disappearing as the disease spreads or any remain as major symptoms.

  2. Systemic symptoms:

    The chief systemic symptoms are:-

    1. Mosaic Spotting:

      In this case usually the leaves, sometimes the blossoms and other parts of the host plants show spots or patches or light green, yellow or even white. These patches or chlorotic areas may be circular or irregular. They also vary in size.

    2. Ring Spotting:

      This is a symptom which appears in localized spots. Sometimes circular chlorotic areas appear on the surface of leaves. These are called the chlorotic rings spots. Usually necrosis appears in rings alternating with normal green. The rings are concentric so a central spot. This symptom is called necrotic ring spot.

    3. Chlorosis:

      It is uniform yellowing of leaves subsequent to infection. It occurs when young growing leaves are infected. It is not a very common symptom.

    4. Distortion:

      It is a common symptom of virus diseases. It may be in the form of rolling and crinkling of leaves caused by retarded growth of veins. Sometimes there is production of a cluster of thin wiry shoots. It is called witches broom.

    5. Necrosis:

      It is the death of cells in localized regions. It appears in various forms. Usually it is restricted to small areas on the leaves or streaks on the stem. In the former case the chlorotic tissue may break down and necrotic spots appear. The necrotic or dead tissue is usually demarcated from the living tissue by a distinct dark brown border. In top necrosis there is rapid killing of a terminal bud or a branch or even entire top of the plant. Sometimes it extends over large areas finally resulting in the death of the whole plant.

    6. Breaking of blossoms:

      It is another symptom of virus diseases. Attractively variegated leaves of some ornamental shrubs such as Abutilon striatum are the result of virus infection.

Stunting and Premature Defoliation: The virus diseases in general are hypoplastic and cause under-development of the host.

The host plant remains stunted with shorter internodes, smaller leaves and fruits and general reduction in size. The virus infected plants are more often stunted than killed. Cabbage mosaic causes premature defoliation.

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