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Destructive Onion Virus Evolving, Spreading

Iris yellow spot virus is continuing to pose a danger to onion crops by evolving and spreading, according to research from Washington State University (WSU) virologists. Named for its original host plant, Iris yellow spot has caused significant damage to onion crops around the world.

Infection weakens the seed-bearing stems, causing them to lodge, or fall over, effectively destroying the next generation of seeds. The virus also reduces photosynthetic activity, ultimately shrinking the onion bulb.

WSU professor Hanu Pappu and his research colleagues set out to understand the diversity of the virus, as well as its evolution and possible reasons for its global spread, using a rapid molecular test, a sort of genetic fingerprinting. The study provided insight into the speed with which this virus is evolving and spreading. Funded in part by USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. For more information, read the WSU Insider article.

Image of onions; courtesy of Adobe Stock.

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