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Scientists discover new virus infecting potatoes

A new species of the genus Potyvirus infecting potatoes was discovered by scientists working at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) in Edinburgh. In a recent scientific paper they are proposing the name “Potato yellow blotch virus” (PYBV) to identify the virus in future. It was discovered in a potato breeding line.

Plants infected by the virus show isolated yellow blotches on the leaves. The unusual yellow symptoms on the foliage could have been mistaken for other potato-infecting viruses (such as Potato aucuba mosaic virus, Potato mop top virus (PMTV) or Tobacco rattle virus, according to the scientists.

They say the PYBV genome analysis of the new virus shows that it is closely related to Potato virus A (PVA). With a couple of exceptions, symptomatology and host range analysis of PYBV was found to be comparable to PVA on solanaceous and non-solanaceous plant species. The susceptibility of potato cultivars to PYBV and PVA
was similar.

According to Dr Christophe Lacomme, a Senior Virologist at SASA (a member of the research team with Carolyn Nisbet from the Potato Quarantine Unit), further studies are required to fully understand the epidemiology of PYBV, but, he says “we propose that since PYBV is very rare, and closely related to PVA with comparable cultivar resistance, it will be expected to have a low impact in potato crops, and be of a lesser threat to the trade than other potato-infecting viruses of the same family.”

Professor Gerry Saddler, Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland, congratulated the team on their work and acknowledged that the authorities must maintain vigilance across the range of pests and pathogens that have the potential to affect such an important food crop.

Read the full article on p.4 of the launch issue of the Global Potato News magazine


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