Beet yellow stunt virus
J. E. Duffus
U.S. Agricultural Research Station, Salinas, California 93915, USA
A virus with flexuous filamentous particles c. 1400 nm long. Transmitted by
several species of aphids in the semi-persistent manner, but not by inoculation with
sap. Infects species in the Chenopodiaceae, Compositae and a few other families.
Widespread in California. Occasionally destructive on lettuce.
Causes a yellow, twisting stunt disease of sugar beet (Beta vulgaris
and a severe chlorosis and collapse of lettuce (Lactuca sativa
Also occurs commonly in sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus
) where it
causes a brilliant red or yellow interveinal coloration.
Widespread and of high incidence in California in sowthistle. Typical symptoms have
been observed in sowthistle in Oregon and Washington States, USA, and in England and
Scotland, but there is no experimental evidence for the occurrence of the virus in
Host Range and Symptomatology
Infects species in the dicotyledonous families Chenopodiaceae, Compositae,
Geraniaceae, Portulacaceae and Solanaceae. Transmitted readily by aphids, but not by
inoculation with sap. Infected plants commonly show interveinal yellowing or reddening
of the lower or intermediate leaves; some hosts develop extremely severe symptoms with
stunting, necrosis and death.
Beta vulgaris (sugar beet). Initially shows severe twisting, cupping and epinasty
of leaves of intermediate age. Petioles are shortened and leaves mottled and yellow.
Plants are severely stunted and may collapse and die
Chenopodium capitatum. Interveinal reddening of the older leaves, similar to
the symptoms induced by mild isolates of beet yellows virus, but with no vein clearing
or vein etching.
Lactuca sativa (lettuce). Severe stunting and chlorosis. Older leaves collapse
prematurely and turn necrotic. Plants infected when young sometimes collapse and die
before heading. Virus infection may be rapidly diagnosed in the field by pulling
affected plants and cutting the stem and crown tissue longitudinally. The phloem tissue
in diseased plants is severely necrotic, and shows distinct brown zones extending into
the crown tissue
Sonchus oleraceus (sowthistle). Intense red or sometimes yellow interveinal
Beta vulgaris, Lactuca sativa and Sonchus oleraceus are suitable for
maintaining cultures. Sonchus oleraceus is readily infected with virus by using
the aphid vector, Nasonovia lactucae.
Sonchus oleraceus is suitable in tests for transmission by the aphid Nasonovia
lactucae, and Chenopodium capitatum in tests with Myzus persicae.
Transmission by Vectors
Transmitted by aphids in a semi-persistent manner. Nasonovia lactucae
most efficient vector; it is commonly found on sowthistle, but feeds only transiently
on lettuce and rarely on sugarbeet. Transmitted less efficiently by Myzus persicae
and Macrosiphum euphorbiae.
Most aphids cease to transmit 1 or 2 days after
acquisition but a few transmit for up to 4 days; the virus was not transmitted by
insects after moulting. Single aphids were capable of acquiring the virus and losing it
three successive times.
Transmission through Seed
Not tested directly but there is no evidence for seed transmission from infected
lettuce, sowthistle or sugar beet plants.
Transmission by Dodder
Not transmitted by Cuscuta californica
The virus is moderately immunogenic. Antisera prepared by intramuscular injections
of clarified sap from infected sugar beet reacted in tube precipitin tests with
clarified sap from infected lettuce and sowthistle.
carnation necrotic fleck
(Schmidt et al., 1963
wheat yellow leaf
viruses in particle
morphology, transmission by aphids, and relations with tissues.
no serological relationship to
beet yellows virus.
Stability in Sap
Can be partially purified from clarified sap by differential centrifugation.
Properties of Particles
Flexuous filamentous particles c.
1400 nm long and c.
12.5 nm in
) (J. E. Duffus & L. L. Hoefert, unpublished data).
Relations with Cells and Tissues
(Hoefert, Esau & Duffus, 1970
and Sonchus oleraceus,
particles are found only in cells of the vascular tissues, usually in the cytoplasm,
and form aggregates of various sizes
Degenerative changes occur in the
chloroplasts of mesophyll and phloem parenchyma and in plastids of sieve elements.
Some phloem parenchyma cells undergo complete breakdown.
Beet yellow stunt virus and
beet yellows virus
have several characteristics in
common. Both are transmitted in a semi-persistent manner by aphids, and both have
long, flexuous filamentous particles. The viruses induce yellowing diseases of
sugarbeet and Chenopodium capitatum
(a major indicator host of beet yellows
virus). They differ markedly, however, in host range, especially in the Compositae
(sowthistle and lettuce are immune to beet yellows virus). Sowthistle is a widespread
natural reservoir of beet yellow stunt virus. Although beet yellows virus can be
effectively controlled by adopting a beet-free period at various times during the
the distribution of beet yellow stunt virus in wild Sonchus
is so extensive that its incidence seems unlikely to be affected by cropping
changes, except those that affect weed populations. Incidence of beet yellow stunt
virus is high in rows adjacent to areas where sowthistle is prevalent, but becomes
progressively less with increasing distance from the virus source.
- Duffus, Phytopathology 62: 161, 1972.
- Duffus, J. Am. Soc. Sug. Beet Technol. 20: 1, 1978.
- Hoefert, Esau & Duffus, Virology 42: 814, 1970.
- Inouye, CMI/AAB Descriptions of Plant Viruses 136, 3 pp., 1974.
- Inouye, CMI/AAB Descriptions of Plant Viruses 157, 3 pp., 1976.
- Price, CMI/AAB Descriptions of Plant Viruses 33, 3 pp., 1970.
- Russell, CMI/AAB Descriptions of Plant Viruses 13, 3 pp., 1970.
- Schmidt, Richter, Hertzsch & Klinkowski, Phytopath. Z. 47: 66, 1963.
Detached leaf of greenhouse-grown sugar beet showing twisting and interveinal
Greenhouse-grown sugar beet plant showing stunting, distortion and twisting.
Field-grown lettuce plant showing generalized chlorosis.
Field-grown lettuce plant cut longitudinally showing phloem necrosis (arrow).
Section of phloem parenchyma cell of a young leaf of sowthistle showing
aggregates of virus particles. Bar represents 400 nm.
Virus particle in leaf-dip preparation stained with uranyl acetate. Bar
represents 400 nm.