Raspberry crumbly fruit in red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), widespread in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and British Columbia, Canada, is most commonly caused by a virus infection. Raspberry bushy dwarf virus (RBDV) has long been attributed as the causal agent of the disease. Recently, the identification of two additional viruses, Raspberry leaf mottle virus (RLMV) and Raspberry latent virus (RpLV), in northern Washington and British Columbia, suggested the existence of a possible new virus complex responsible for the increased severity of the disease. Virus testing of crumbly fruited plants from five fields in northern Washington revealed the presence of RLMV and RpLV, in addition to RBDV. Plants with less severe crumbly fruit symptoms had a much lower incidence of RLMV or RpLV. Field trials using replicated plots of ‘Meeker’ plants containing single and mixed infections of RBDV, RLMV, or RpLV, along with a virus-free control, were developed to determine the role of RLMV and RpLV in crumbly fruit. Field evaluations during establishment and two fruiting years revealed that plants infected with the three viruses or the combinations RBDV+RLMV and RBDV+RpLV had the greatest reduction in cane growth, or fruit firmness and fruit weight, respectively. Quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) showed that the titer of RBDV was increased ~400-fold when it occurred in mixed infections with RLMV compared to RBDV in single infections. In addition, a virus survey revealed that RLMV and RpLV are present at high incidence in northern Washington; whereas the incidence in southern Washington and Oregon, where crumbly fruit is not as serious a problem, was considerably lower.
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