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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Salinas, California » Crop Improvement and Protection Research » Research » Research Project #437615

Research Project: Detection, Biology, and Management of the Expanding Whitefly-transmitted Cucurbit Virus Disease Complex in California

Location: Crop Improvement and Protection Research

Project Number: 2038-22000-018-008-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Nov 1, 2019
End Date: Jun 30, 2022

Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV) has been impacting production of California melon and watermelon in the Imperial Valley of California and other desert production regions since 2006, and eliminated fall cucurbit production due to whitefly and virus pressure. Recently, CYSDV-resistant melon varieties have become commercially available, and there are efforts to return to summer and fall melon production in the region with these varieties. However, in 2014, Squash vein yellowing virus (SqVYV) emerged, which can cause collapse of watermelon vines, and in 2018, Cucurbit chlorotic yellows virus (CCYV) was identified, which looks identical to CYSDV but is not controlled by CYSDV resistance. We will enhance management and by determining reservoir hosts of CCYV and SqVYV in CA, develop a universal detection system to rapidly differentiate all three viruses, which will improve resistance breeding efficiency, and develop recommendations to reduce virus transmission to cucurbits.

Molecular primers and probes will be developed for a single reaction test for standard molecular detection (RT-PCR) for presence–absence, and quantitative detection (RT-qPCR) of all three whitefly-transmitted viruses currently affecting California cucurbit production: Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV), Cucurbit chlorotic yellows virus (CCYV), and Squash vein yellowing virus (SqVYV), as well as Cucurbit aphid-borne yellows virus (CABYV), which cannot be distinguished visibly from the others. Standard detection will determine presence or absence of each virus, whereas quantitative detection will provide levels of each virus in a single reaction. Validation will be performed on known samples. New methods will be used to evaluate presence and titer of target viruses in weed and crop plants collected from field locations in Imperial County. A minimum of 12 melon or watermelon fields sampled in desert each late spring melon season, and as many as available during the fall season. Weed samples will be collected from near melon/watermelon fields in spring and fall, as well as sampling of nearby crops to determine incidence and titer of each virus in regional plants. High titer hosts of CCYV and SqVYV identified in year 1 will be used to evaluate efficiency of transmission from these hosts to melon and watermelon. Primers developed in Year 1 will be used to evaluate germplasm for incidence and titer of target viruses in field trials for resistance to whitefly-transmitted viruses in Imperial Valley in both years. Results will be reported through meetings, publications, and website.