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Bee-Mediated Transmission of Blueberry Leaf Mottle Virus Via Infected Pollen in Highbush Blueberry. A. M. Childress, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, Present address: Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane Medical Center, New Orleans, LA 70112; D. C. Ramsdell, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824. Phytopathology 77:167-172. Accepted for publication 26 June 1986. Copyright 1987 The American Phytopathological Society. DOI: 10.1094/Phyto-77-167.

Individual highbush blueberry bushes were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for blueberry leaf mottle virus (BBLMV) infection in a commercial planting. The pattern of infected bushes was random, suggestive of a mode of spread different than by nematodes. Blueberry aphids allowed either a 72-hr or a 120-hr acquisition access period on BBLMV-infected blueberry failed to acquire detectable amounts of BBLMV when individuals were tested by radioimmunosorbent assay (RISA). Hand pollination of 15 2-yr-old blueberry plants resulted in infection of shoots of one of the plants. Trapping foraging honeybees from bushes in a commercial field containing BBLMV-infected bushes resulted in BBLMV being detected in the pollen from up to 51.4% of the pollen baskets from the bees legs when tested by ELISA. In field experiments, transmission occurred during bloom during a 2- to 3-wk period from BBLMV-diseased source bushes to young, virus-free potted bushes placed around a source bush. A hive of bees was placed within a cage around the bushes. Lower levels of transmission occurred if the hive and bushes were not caged, or if the bushes were caged, but without a hive. Virus-free potted bushes placed around a healthy source bush (in a field known to be free of BBLMV) and caged with a hive of bees inside remained virus-free. Blueberry leaf mottle virus appears to be spread mainly by foraging honeybees, which carry BBLMV-contaminated pollen.

Additional keywords: epidemiology, pollen spread.