Halfway through a five-year, $4.6 million grant to combat rose rosette disease in the U.S., the national research team studying it is encouraged by the amount of information learned but admits having a way to go before finding how to overcome the deadly problem.
Rose rosette was observed on wild roses as early as the 1940s, but it was not until 2011 that scientists definitively identified the cause as being from a new virus in the novel genus Emaravirus transmitted by the microscopic eriophyid mite, according to Dr. David Byrne. Now the virus is killing commercial rose varieties.
Symptoms, which can show up as early as 17 days from exposure to infected mites or as many as 279 days after, include “witches’ brooms, excessive thorniness, enlarged canes, malformed leaves and flowers.” Ultimately, the rose plant dies.
The team is pursuing three issues: the virus, the mite and rose plant resistance to the disease, according to Byrne, professor of Rosa and Prunus Breeding and Genetics for Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, and Rose Rosette Disease Project director. And now they are soliciting help from people who like to grow roses as well.
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