New Test For Cucumber Mosaic VirusBy
Cucumber mosaic virus infects more than 800 species of plants worldwide,
causing losses both in the United States and overseas. Now a new, commercially
available test will allow growers, producers and exporters to track both foreign
and domestic strains. That could mean improved outbreak prevention or control.
The test kit, developed in cooperation with the
U.S. National Arboretum's
Nursery Plants Research Unit, is available through Agdia, Inc., of Elkhart,
Ind. The arboretum is part of USDA's Agricultural
Earlier, the ARS scientists, based in Beltsville, Md., collected more than
140 cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) strains, including ones from Russia, South
Africa and Southeast Asia. They developed unique antibodies that react to
strains found in both the United States and abroad, then used those antibodies
as the basis for a comprehensive test to detect CMV.
Agdia commercialized the test in cooperation with the ARS scientists. The
test is based on sophisticated biochemistry, but is easy to use. Farmers and
nursery operators simply touch a newly cut leaf or stem of a plant they want to
test to a specially treated, paper-like membrane. The plant does not have to
show any symptoms or visible signs of the disease.
The membrane is taken to an extension office or laboratory and treated with
solutions that contain mouse antibodies that react to the virus. Next, solutions
are used that cause a change in color at the "touched spot" if CMV is
present. Uprooting and removing the infected plants then helps prevent the
spread of the virus in the crop.
Despite its name, CMV doesn't attack just cucumbers. In 1992, it plagued
tomato crops in Blount and St. Clair counties in Alabama, forcing some growers
out of business. Quicker detection might have saved some of these farms.
The test can be used for general detection of CMV or adapted to look for
specific CMV subgroups. Subgroup I is common in North America; subgroup II is
prevalent in the Tropics. The test might someday be used to monitor plant
imports and exports for the virus.
Scientific contact: Hei-Ti Hsu, ARS
Nursery Plants Research Unit, Beltsville, MD 20705, phone (301) 504-5657,
fax (301) 504-5096. firstname.lastname@example.org.