Department of Virology, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
During March 1997, 20 to 30% of field-grown onion (Allium cepa), observed in Bet Shean Valley, Israel, had unusual viral symptoms of straw-colored ringspots on leaves and flower stalks. Leaf samples were analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (EM) of leaf dip preparations. Typical tospovirus-like particles were observed only with samples taken from symptomatic plants. Crude sap from symptomatic tissue was mechanically transmitted to Nicotiana benthamiana, Chenopodium quinoa, and Gomphrena globosa. On inoculated plants of N. benthamiana, chlorotic spots developed on inoculated leaves, followed by systemic necrosis, 4 and 7 days post inoculation (DPI), respectively. On inoculated plants of C. quinoa and G. globosa, necrotic local lesions developed by 4 to 5 DPI. EM studies with ultrathin sections of infected onion and N. benthamiana leaves revealed the presence of tospovirus-like particles. Virus was purified from mechanically infected N. benthamiana and identified as Iris yellow spot tospovirus (IYSV) by Western blots (immunoblots) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (anti-IYSV antiserum was provided by D. Peters, Wageningen, the Netherlands). A high incidence of the disease observed in the surrounding fields and in other onion-growing areas in Israel was associated with large populations of the onion thrips (Thrips tabaci). Although characteristic symptoms have been noted on a frequent basis, effects on yield have yet to be determined. IYSV is known to occur in the Netherlands, where it has been occasionally detected in Iris (1) and leek (A. Porrum) (J. Verhoeven, personal communication). The detection of IYSV in Israel and the wide distribution of thrips in the natural vegetation may be an important constraint on onion and other bulb-crop production in Israel.
Reference: (1) A. F. L. M. Derks and M. E. C. Lemmers. Acta Hortic. 432:132, 1996.