In July 2003, noticeable red lesions were observed on rhubarb leaves (Rheum rhababarum cv. Kerwin) from a plant at the Arctic Plant Germplasm Research and Introduction Project in Palmer, AK. Extracts of leaf tissue tested positive for a potyvirus using indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and western blots with a monoclonal antibody specific to the potyvirus group (Agdia, Inc., Elkhart, IN). During the following growing season (June 2004), obvious chlorotic ringspots developed into red lesions on the same plant and an adjacent plant of the same cultivar. Partially purified particles that were isolated from the infected rhubarb plants were mechanically inoculated to an experimental host range (number of infected plants per total number of plants), resulting in lesions on leaves of Rheum palmatum (1 of 2) and Chenopodium amaranticolor (3 of 5) but none on C. quinoa (0 of 4). The leaves with local lesions from C. amaranticolor were ground in phosphate buffer (1 g of tissue per 10 ml of buffer), and the extract rubbed onto a set of plants resulting in lesions on R. hybridum (raponticum) (1 of 2), C. amaranticolor (1 of 4), and C. quinoa (1 of 4). The original diseased rhubarb plants and experimental symptomatic plants were confirmed to have a potyvirus using ELISA. Subsequent compound direct ELISA and western blot assays revealed that the virus reacted strongly to monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies to Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) (Agdia, Inc.). Total RNA was extracted from leaves of the naturally infected rhubarb plants with an RNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen Sciences, Germantown, Maryland), and used in reverse-transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with specific primers for TuMV (1) predicted to amplify a 1,134-bp 3′-terminal cDNA fragment encompassing the 3′-end of the nuclear inclusion protein gene (NIb), the coat protein gene, and the 3′-nontranslated region. A PCR product of approximately the expected size was obtained and then sequenced. Sequences (1,077 nt) that corresponded to the TuMV coat protein gene and 3′-terminal noncoding region were submitted to Genbank (Accession No. AY744930). Blast searches against NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) contained high identities to many TuMV isolates with up to 96% (1,043 of 1,077) nucleotide identity (i.e., GenBank Accession No. AF169561). Similar high identities of up to 97% at the amino acid level occurred within the coat protein coding region (i.e., GenBank Accession No. BAC02892.1). Infected rhubarb plants were removed from the site and none of the remaining 109 plants tested positive for TuMV using ELISA. On the basis of the mechanical transmission to plant hosts, the definitive TuMV serology, and the consensus of sequenced regions with TuMV, we concluded that the causal agent of the diseased rhubarb plants was TuMV. Although TuMV has a wide plant host range occurring worldwide (2), to our knowledge, this is the first report of TuMV in rhubarb in Alaska and the first time that TuMV has been detected in Alaska.
References: (1) P. Lehmann et al. Physiol. Mol. Plant Pathol. 51:195, 1997. (2) R. Provvidenti. Page 1340 in: Viruses of Plants. A. A. Brunt et al., eds. CAB International, Wallingford, UK, 1996.