E. Coneva, Department of Horticulture, Auburn University, AL 36849;
J. F. Murphy, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University, AL 36849;
R. Boozer, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University, Clanton, AL 35045; and
N. Velásquez, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University, AL 36849
In 2006, primocane stunted growth and crumbly berry development were observed on 4-year-old Kiowa and Apache blackberry cultivars grown at the Chilton Research and Extension Center, Clanton, AL. Samples from affected plants were tested for virus infection by ELISA kits (Agdia, Inc., Elkhart, IN) specific to each of 14 different viruses. Most samples tested positive for Tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV). TRSV was detected in blackberry samples from North Carolina and South Carolina (2). Bray et al. (1) studied the incidence of viruses in blackberry nursery stock in the United States and reported that 9% of the tested samples contained TRSV. Thus, a survey was conducted for TRSV incidence among commercial blackberry stands in eight counties in Alabama during July 2007. Blackberry plants were observed to express virus-like symptoms including chlorotic spots on leaves, leaf veinal chlorosis, stunting, and combinations thereof. Fruit-bearing plants sometimes had crumbly fruit symptoms characteristic of virus infection. Leaf samples that were collected from symptomatic and nonsymptomatic plants representing 14 cultivars were tested by TRSV ELISA (Agdia, Inc.). Of 180 blackberry samples, 68 tested positive for TRSV. Positive ELISA reactions for TRSV were on average 28 times greater than the reactions of known negative control samples considered negative for TRSV. Blackberry plants shown to be infected with TRSV during the 2007 survey were tested in July 2008 in an effort to confirm the presence of TRSV. Fifty-four percent of the samples tested positive by ELISA with the average positive ELISA value being 21 times higher than the average negative ELISA value for known negative control samples. To further confirm the occurrence of TRSV in Alabama-grown blackberry plants, leaf samples were tested by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR to amplify a 329-bp fragment of the viral coat protein gene (TRSV RNA 2 sequence accession no. NC_005096; primers TRSCP-F (5′-TCTGGCACTATAAGCGGAAG-3′) and TRSCP-R (5′-GAAAACATGGGAGGATGCAC-3′). A single band of the anticipated size was amplified (analyzed by agarose gel electorphoresis and visualized by ethidium bromide staining) from RNA samples extracted with a RNeasy Mini kit (Qiagen, Valencia, CA) from blackberry samples that tested positive for TRSV by ELISA and a known positive control. No amplified product resulted from a blackberry sample that tested negative for TRSV by ELISA. These results illustrate and confirm the presence of TRSV in blackberry leaf tissues grown in Alabama. To our knowledge, this is the first report of TRSV infection of blackberry plants in Alabama.
References: (1) M. M. Bray et al. HortScience 40:874, 2005. (2) T. L. Guzmán-Baeny. Incidence, distribution, and symptom description of viruses in cultivated blackberry (Rubus subgenus Eubatus) in the southeastern United States. M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, 2003.