M. Ashfaq, and
H. R. Pappu, National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Faisalabad, Pakistan, and Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, 99164
Onion (Allium cepa L.) is an important vegetable crop in Pakistan. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Pakistan is the world's fifth largest onion producer. The area and production is 127.8 thousand hectares and 1.7 million tons, respectively, with a yield of 13.8 tons per hectare during 2012. The agro-ecological diversity in the country enables onion production almost year round. Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV; family Bunyaviridae, genus Tospovirus), transmitted principally by Thrips tabaci, is an economically important viral pathogen of bulb and seed onion crops in many onion-growing areas of the world (1,3). In Asia, IYSV has been reported in India and Sri Lanka (2,4). During March to May 2012, as part of a survey for tospoviruses in vegetables, symptoms suspected to be caused by IYSV were observed on bulb and seed onions grown in farmers' fields in Faisalabad, Nankana, Sheikhupura, and Sialkot districts of Punjab. Symptoms consisted of spindle-shaped, straw colored, irregular chlorotic lesions with occasional green islands on the leaves. Approximately 60% of the fields surveyed had about 30% of the plants with these symptoms. The presence of the virus was confirmed with an IYSV-specific ELISA kit (Bioreba). IYSV infection was verified by RT-PCR with primers IYSV-F (TAAAACAAACATTCAAACAA) and IYSV-R (CTCTTAAACACATTTAACAAGCA) as forward and reverse primers, respectively. Amplicons of approximately 1,100 bp were obtained from the symptomatic samples, but not from healthy and water controls. The amplicons were cloned and sequenced. The IYSV-Pakistan isolates (GenBank Accession Nos. KF171103, KF171104, and KF171105) had the highest nucleotide sequence identity of 99% with the corresponding region of an IYSV isolate from Chile (DQ150107). To our knowledge, this is the first report of IYSV infecting onion in Pakistan. The relatively widespread occurrence of IYSV underscores the need for systematic surveys to assess its incidence and impact on onion bulb and seed crops so that appropriate management tactics can be developed.
References: (1) D. H. Gent et al. Plant Dis. 88:446, 2004. (2) B. Mandal et al. Plant Dis. 94:468, 2012. (3) H. R. Pappu et al. Virus Res. 141:219, 2009. (4) K. S. Ravi et al. Plant Pathol. 55:288, 2006.