Department of Crop & Disease Management, IACR Rothamsted, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, England
Department of Agriculture, Vaiaku, Funafuti, Tuvalu
In September 1997, plants of Hibiscus manihot (locally called nambele) were observed on Vaitupu Island, Tuvalu, exhibiting an angular leaf mosaic and chlorosis that was not always clearly discernible. Electron microscopy of negatively stained sap from affected leaves revealed the presence of numerous isometric virus particles 28 nm in diameter. Poly-acrylamide gel electrophoresis of purified virus gave a single protein band of Mr 38,000 similar to that of the carmoviruses. Immunosorbent electron microscopy tests with antisera kindly provided by N. Spence showed the virus to be hibiscus chlorotic ringspot carmovirus (HCRSV) (1). This virus is also reported from El Salvador, the U.S., Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. It is not known how the virus reached Tuvalu but we suspect it was via infected cuttings, which were imported for the production of food supplements to combat acute deficiencies of vitamins A and C in the population. The virus is most likely to have been disseminated throughout the islands and atolls of Tuvalu through infected cuttings. Local spread within fields could occur through contaminated hands and cutting implements because of the ease with which the virus is mechanically transmitted.
Reference: (1) H. E.Waterworth et al. Phytopathology 66:570, 1976.