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Tobacco Rattle Virus in Peonies: A Reference Guide for Cut Flower and Rootstock Producers

Tobacco Rattle Virus in Peonies: A Reference Guide for Cut Flower and Rootstock Producers

FS284E
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Andrea Garfinkel, Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, Todd Steinlage, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture, Palmer, AK, Janice Chumley, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Gary Chastagner, Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University
Tobacco rattle virus is one of the most important viruses of peonies (Paeonia spp.). Although little is known about its long-term impact on plant vigor, both cut flower and rootstock producers should carefully manage this disease to limit its spread and the impact of the disease on their harvestable products. This publication provides an overview of the biology, symptoms, transmission, and management of the virus, with emphasis on strategies for commercial producers. The information may also prove useful for hobby growers and homeowners.
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What is Tobacco rattle
virus
?

Tobacco rattle virus (TRV), previously referred to as Peony ringspot virus or Peony mosaic virus, is one of the most widespread viruses of peonies. There have been reports of this virus throughout Asia, Europe, New Zealand, and North America. TRV can infect both herbaceous (Paeonia lactiflora) and tree (Paeonia suffruticosa) peonies.

Although first described in tobacco, TRV has a wide host range of over 400 species, including: aster (Aster spp.), barley
(Hordeum vulgare), beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), beets (Beta vulgaris), brassicas (Brassicaceae), cocklebur (Xanthium spp.), common chickweed (Stellaria media), corn (Zea mays), cucumber (Cucumis sativus), faba beans (Vicia faba), gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.), iris (Iris spp.), lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), daffodil (Narcissus spp.), oat (Avena sativa), onion
(Allium cepa), peas (Pisum sativum), petunia (Petunia x atkinsiana), pepper (Capsicum spp.), pigweed (Amaranthus spp.), potato (Solanum tuberosum), purslane (Portulaca oleracea), rye (Secale cereale), shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), spinach (Spinacia oleracea), sunflower
(Helianthus annuus), tulip (Tulipa spp.), and wheat (Triticum spp.). Many of these hosts are symptomless. TRV infection of potato can cause stunting, foliar symptoms (mottling, yellow ringspots or line patterns), stem mottling, as well as tuber deformation and symptoms known as corky ringspot, or spraing (necrotic flecks, arcs, or rings). As such, TRV in potato is of economic importance as corky ringspot may lower the value of a potato shipment, or make it unmarketable. The virus often remains localized to the roots of infected hosts, but in the case of peony and potato may express in the leaves. Some of these hosts can play an important role in the epidemiology of the pathogen on peony.

Tobacco rattle virus particles are rod-shaped and are composed of two single-stranded RNAs. Lengths of both particles are variable, depending on the isolate. RNA-1 is 185 to 196nm long, and RNA-2 is approximately 50 to 115nm long. The diameter of both particles is approximately 23nm. Given that a nanometer (nm) is one-billionth of a meter, these particles are extremely small and can only be seen with an electron microscope. The number of nucleotides is related to particle length, and as such, is variable. RNA-1 is approximately 7000 nucleotides long, and RNA-2 varies from 2000–4500 nucleotides. There are different methods for

determining particle length and the number of nucleotides from that relationship. RNA-1 contains all the genes needed for replication and RNA-2 contains the gene necessary to produce the coat protein. The so called “M-type” isolates contain both RNA particles and are nematode and mechanically transmissible. “NM-type” isolates only contain RNA-1, do not form a particle, are not nematode transmissible, and are more difficult to transmit mechanically. Both “M” and “NM” type isolates have been detected in peony. The type of TRV isolate present can impact the ability of the virus to be positively detected, as those isolates lacking a coat protein cannot be detected using antibody-based tests (such as an ELISA) and must be detected using molecular methods (such as PCR).

What are the symptoms of TRV in peony?

TRV in peonies is most commonly expressed as ringspots of alternating green and yellow concentric circles (Figure 1) or a yellow-green mottle or mosaic. Symptoms can also appear as yellow line patterns (Figure 2) or chevrons and symptomatic tissues can turn purple or red in certain conditions (Figure 3, Figure 4). These symptoms can affect marketability of a whole plant or stems if present during flower harvest. There are no known symptoms of TRV expressed in the flower and it is unclear how the virus affects plant productivity; however, observations suggest there is no marked reduction in the vigor of infected plants.

Symptom expression of TRV in peonies, like many viruses, is highly dependent on environmental conditions. Symptoms will often appear during cooler parts of the growing season and are largely absent during the warmer months. Symptoms may also only be apparent in part of the plant while the remainder of the plant appears healthy (Figure 5; Figure 6). Even if symptoms are not visible, if any parts of the plant show or have ever shown symptoms of TRV, it is likely that the entire plant is infected with the virus. It is not possible to remove only infected plant parts or cure a peony of TRV (see “What do I do about my TRV-infected plants?”). Peonies are also susceptible to other viruses, such as Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), the symptoms of which can resemble TRV. TSWV can also cause economic damage to peony and many other host species, but requires different management strategies than TRV.

Figure 1. A peony leaf displaying ringspots of alternating yellow and green concentric circles which are characteristic symptoms of Tobacco rattle virus. (Published with permission of Gary A. Chastagner.)
Figure 1. A peony leaf displaying ringspots of alternating yellow and green concentric circles which are characteristic symptoms of Tobacco rattle virus. (Published with permission of Gary A. Chastagner.)
Figure 2. A peony leaf showing yellow line pattern due to infection by Tobacco rattle virus. (Published with permission of Todd Steinlage.)
Figure 2. A peony leaf showing yellow line pattern due to infection by Tobacco rattle virus. (Published with permission of Todd Steinlage.)

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