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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Corn and Soybean Virology
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The Corn and Soybean Research Unit was formed in the 1960s in response to a dual epidemic of maize chlorotic dwarf virus and maize dwarf mosaic virus that devastated Ohio’s cornfields. The group originally consisted of a plant pathologist, a virologist, an entomologist and a maize breeder. The ARS group collaborated with Ohio State University faculty in Entomology, Plant Pathology and Crop Science faculty to identify the two viruses and their vectors. Since then, the group has studied viruses that limit maize production across the U.S. and worldwide. They are an internationally-known center of expertise in maize virus identification, characterization and epidemiology, and function as an important early warning system for exotic viruses and vector-transmitted pathogens that threaten corn production in the U.S. Recently, the group has included research to control emerging virus diseases that threaten soybeans

Our Mission is to develop the knowledge required to provide for the rapid identification, characterization and development of disease management strategies for emerging virus disease threats to corn and soybeans in the US and worldwide.

  • To lead in research on the biology, etiology, genetics and molecular biology of corn viruses and virus resistance mechanisms in corn.
  • To lead in identification of emerging soybean viruses and evaluation of soybeans for resistance to virus diseases.

Past accomplishments include:

  • Characterized ‘new’ and emerging corn viruses and their vectors.
  • Developed antisera for identification of 17 corn-infecting viruses.
  • Developed mechanical and insect transmission protocols to evaluate virus resistance in corn.
  • Identified and released virus resistant germplasm, and mapped virus resistance genes.
  • Published more than 250 research and review articles (joint ARS/OSU group).

Recent accomplishments include:

  • Developed and refined vector-free transmission of maize viruses and their genomes.
  • Identified and mapped resistance genes for maize chlorotic dwarf mosaic virus
  • Delineated roles of genes on chromosomes six and three for resistance to maize dwarf mosaic virus and sugarcane mosaic virus.
  • Made and distributed virus specific antisera for High Plains virus.
  • Demonstrated that Reptalus panzeri is a major vector of Maize redness in Serbia.
  • Sequenced maize necrotic streak virus, maize fine streak virus and maize mosaic virus genomes.
  • Identified differential responses of soybean germplasm to bean pod mottle virus.

Current capabilities:

  • Rapid identification and characterization of viral pathogens of corn and soybean.
  • Identification of vectors Identification of virus resistant germplasm and mapping of virus specific resistance genes in corn.
  • Molecular characterization of virus resistance in corn.

Current objectives

  1. Identify and characterize emerging virus and insect-vectored diseases in corn and soybeans.
  2. Develop corn and soybean virus disease control strategies.
    • Characterize the nature of host resistance to virus disease.
    • Identify, map, and clone virus-resistance genes.
    • Combine quantitative virus resistance with insect resistance in soybean.
    • Characterize insect vector/virus relationships.
  3. Develop virus-based gene expression and silencing vectors for corn.

Last Modified: 11/8/2013
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