Department of Virology, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel
Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV), a new tospovirus associated with a disease in onion (Allium cepa) that is known to growers in Israel as “straw bleaching,” was identified and further characterized by host range, serology, electron microscopy, and molecular analysis of the nucleocapsid gene. The transmissibility of IYSV by Thrips tabaci and Frankliniella occidentalis was studied. IYSV was efficiently transmitted by T. tabaci from infected to healthy onion seedlings and leaf pieces. Two biotypes of F. occidentalis, collected from two different locations in Israel, failed to transmit the virus. Surveys to relate the incidence of thrips populations to that of IYSV were conducted in onion fields. They revealed that the onion thrips T. tabaci was the predominant thrips species, and that its incidence was strongly related to that of IYSV. Forty-five percent of the thrips population collected from IYSV-infected onion and garlic fields in Israel transmitted the virus. IYSV was not transmitted to onion seedlings from infected mother plants through the seed, and was not located in bulbs of infected plants.