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Collection is “411 Directory” for Potato Viruses / March 2, 2000 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Collection is “411 Directory” for Potato Viruses

By Tara Weaver-Missick
March 2, 2000 .

If a plant pathologist, breeder, geneticist, or grower discovers an unusual disease in a potato, they may be able to find out what it is by consulting the Agricultural Research Service’s Schultz Potato Virus Collection.

Researchers throughout the world have compared their infected plants with those maintained in the Schultz collection, started in 1916 at Aroostook State Farm at Presque Isle, Maine.

Now, after more than 80 years, the collection contains progeny from the original infected plants. The collection includes 17 distinct viruses, including mild mosaic, apical leafroll, calico mosaic, Aucuba mosaic, leaf rolling mosaic, latent virus, rugose mosaic, spindle tuber viroid, yellow dwarf, and yellow spot.

Since 1968, plant pathologist Robert W. Goth has been curator of the collection, now housed at Aroostook Farm and at the ARS’ Vegetable Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

Viruses are maintained in insect-proof cages to avoid contamination by aphid transmitted diseases and loss of original viruses. Each year the viruses are grown out in the small, screened-in cages in the field to keep the collection going for future use. The researchers save four tubers from each cage for replanting at Aroostook Farm the following year and send the remaining tubers to Beltsville for further use and study.

All of the collection’s viruses are among the most prevalent in the United States, Canada and Europe.

A new Carla virus, isolated from the potato variety RedLasoda in 1992, was named Potato Latent virus in 1998. It was added to the collection last year. Researchers can request samples of any virus for study.

More information on this research appears in the March issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Scientific contact: Robert W. Goth, ARS Vegetable Laboratory, Beltsville, Md.; phone (301) 504- 5953, fax (301) 504-5555, rgptj@asrr.arsusda.gov.

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