New Black Raspberry Virus Discovered
Robert Martin, a USDA pathologist in Oregon, has described a new virus believed responsible for the growing scourge of "black raspberry decline". The disease has serious repercussions, markedly shortening the lifespan of plantings and reducing yields. Decline diseases are frequently the result of mixed infections of many viruses, making it difficult to pin down the effects of any one of them or precisely define symptoms. This new bug, however, is sufficient to cause disease all by its lonesome, and it appears readily transmitted by aphids. It's been given the catchy name "Black Raspberry Decline Associated Virus" (just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?), or "BRDaV".
One thing that became disturbingly clear when I was working with brambles (in my case blackberries), is that practically all of them are all but dripping with viruses. Pretty much every plant you look in. Frequently you can't see anything resembling symptoms, but they're there, lowering vigor, reducing yield, making the plants that much more susceptible to stress. And, if you're a nursery owner, just waiting to stand in the way of you shipping your plants out of state. The usual solution is to use meristem culture (the meristem region, where plants do their active growth, is comprised of cells with few or no virus particles, so plants grown from this small patch of cells will be clean). The problem is, of course, in a world chock-full of Rubus viruses, how long do they really stay clean? And do we really want to know?