Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV)

Need to know

  • Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV) is a plant pathogenic virus to many plants such as ornamental flowers, tulips, petunias, potatoes, and many others.
  • Symptoms on leaves can vary from ring spots to a wavy line, mosaic or mottled patterns.
  • Infected rootstock is the most common way this disease moves long distances, and it can also spread by mechanical transmission. 
  • Focus on prevention. Unfortunately, there is no treatment once a plant is infected.

Overview

Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV) is a plant pathogenic virus to many plants such as ornamental flowers, tobacco, potatoes, and many others (see host range table at the end of the article). While this virus has a wide host range, it also causes various symptoms depending on the host. Some plants may have no symptoms, while others may be stunted and have foliar symptoms, including mottling, discolored ring spots, or wavy line patterns.

Symptoms

Symptoms on leaves can vary from ring spots (Ringspot Pattern) to a wavy line pattern (Line Pattern) to a mosaic (Mosaic Pattern) or mottled pattern. There can also be no symptoms at all or only on the part of the plant. The leaf discoloration is typically more evident during cooler months and will dissipate during the warmer months of the growing season. This disease does not typically stunt peonies or cause problems with flowering. 

Signs

No evidence of the pathogen will be visible with the naked eye. Specialized testing is required to confirm this and other diseases caused by this virus.

close up of TRV symptoms in Bleeding heart (Dicentra)
Close up of TRV symptoms in Bleeding heart (Dicentra)

TRV symptoms in Bleeding heart (Dicentra)
TRV symptoms in Bleeding heart (Dicentra)

TRV symptoms in Peony
TRV symptoms in Peony

 

Disease Cycle

Infected rootstock is the most common way this disease moves long distances. TRV spreads from plant to plant by using dirty pruning tools, known as mechanical transmission, which has been proven experimentally, but its role in nature is unknown. Various species of root nematodes are known vectors of this disease. These nematodes become infected by feeding on an infected plant. When the nematode moves to another plant to feed, the virus is transmitted to a healthy plant. After infection, the plant may begin to show symptoms or remain symptomless depending on weather conditions. The nematode spread of this virus is favored by high moisture soil, where nematodes can move and have better access to roots.

 

Samples Needed for Diagnosis and Confirmation

The Iowa State University Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic can help you to investigate and confirm if your plant has this disease. Please see our website for current forms, fees, and instructions on collecting and packing samples. 

We can test asymptomatic and symptomatic leaves (5- 10) with a DNA-based method; make sure to select the additional testing box in the submission form.

If your sample is from outside of Iowa please do not submit it to the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic without contacting usContact information for each state's diagnostic laboratory for U.S. residents.

Management

  • Focus on prevention. Unfortunately, there is no treatment once a plant is infected.
  • Be vigilant;  inspect new plants for symptoms before purchasing and planting. Scout for early symptoms throughout the growing season.
  • Avoid planting susceptible plants where there have been problems with TRV or nematodes in the past.
  • When replanting on an infected area, avoid susceptible plants (list above) and select plants that are not susceptible to TRV.
  • Pruning out symptomatic leaves showing symptoms will not help as the entire plant is infected even if the whole plant is not showing symptoms.
  • If there are symptoms on a plant, pruning tools used on the infected plant should be cleaned before using the tools on other plants.
  • Lastly, the plant can be removed and destroyed to try to prevent other plants from being infected.
  • While this may help, it may not stop the spread as nearby plants may already be infected but symptomless.
  • No chemical treatments are available or recommended for TRV.

 

Host Range

While this virus has a wide host range (~400,  most important ones listed below),  it can cause various symptoms depending on the host.

Annuals

 Perennials

Weeds

Barley

 Aster

Beggarticks

Bean

 Bleeding hearts (Dicentra spp) 

Broadleaf plantain

Beets

 Gladiolus 

Buckwheat 

Brassicas

(cole crops: Cabbage, Kale, broccoli, etc )

 Iris

Cocklebur

Calendula

 Peony

common chickweed

Cockle bur

 Tulips

Creeping buttercup

Corn

Allium spp

Green foxtail

Cucumber

Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)

Hairy nightshade 

Faba beans

Coral Bells (Heucheras)

Henbit

Marigold

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)

Lambsquarters 

Oats

Daffodil (Narcissus spp.)

Pigweed

Onion

Epimedium

Purslane

Peas

Hyacinth

Shepherd’s purse

Pepper

Hydrangea arboescens 

Sowthistle

Petunia

Hydrangea macrophylla

 
Potato

Lady slipper (Cypripedium renigae)

 
Rye

Lopseed (Phryma leptostachya)

 
Spinach

Petunia X hybrida

 
Sunflower

Sedum

 

Tobacco

(Nicotiana tabacum)

   
Vinca    
Wheat    

 

Fungicide applications may be avoided by following good Integrated Pest Management practices like those listed in this encyclopedia article. Often, only preventative application is effective to manage plant diseases. If the problem requires a fungicide, state law requires the user to read and follow all labels accordingly. For more information, read Proper fungicide use.  

 

Authors: 

Lina Rodriguez Salamanca Extension Plant Pathologist and Diagnostician

Dr. Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca is a diagnostician and extension plant pathologist with the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic  (clinic.ipm.iastate.edu), a member of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN, ...

Last Reviewed: 
January, 2022
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