How To Deal With Tobacco Mosaic Virus And More
Are your plants starting to develop mottled leaves with yellow, white, or green necrotic leaf spots on the foliage? Are you seeing stunted growth and reduced yields in your vegetable crops?
Then you might be facing a mosaic virus infection, also known as TMV infection. Fun fact: the mosaic virus was the first virus to be discovered.
To help you out, we’ve put together this guide that can help you identify, control, and prevent this virus from wreaking havoc in your garden. Let’s get started!
What are Mosaic Viruses?
Mosaic viruses refer to various viruses that can cause the affected plants to develop the typical symptoms you can see with a naked eye: yellow, white, dark green, or light green mottling. These streaks and spots of color often appear like a mosaic, hence the name.
These viruses and infectious diseases have a wide host range and can affect various types of plants, including edibles like vegetables and fruits, and ornamentals. Some of the most commonly infected plants include tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini, watermelon, and green beans.
If you have a vegetable garden, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for three of the most common types of mosaic viruses. These include:
- Bean Common Mosaic and Bean Yellow Mosaic Virus. These primarily affect bean crops. It can be easily spread by aphids and they may also be seed-borne.
- Cucumber Mosaic Virus. Despite its name, this type of mosaic virus not only affects cucumbers but also various other garden crops. This includes cucurbits like melons and squashes, nightshades such as eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, as well as leafy greens like lettuce and spinach. It can easily be spread by aphids.
- Tobacco Mosaic Virus. This type of mosaic virus is often spread through seeds and through direct contact.
Mosaic Virus Symptoms
The symptoms of mosaic virus infection can depend on the different species of plants that are affected, the age of the infected plant, and the conditions in which it is grown. There are, however, common identifiers that can help you determine if your garden is infected with mosaic viruses.
Typically, the leaves appear mottled with yellow, white, light green, or dark green spots. They also look like blisters. The leaves can also look like they have nutrient deficiencies.
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Plants and plant tissue infected with mosaic viruses may also develop deformities such as crinkled or mishappened leaves. Plants infected with this virus diseases also have trouble with plant growth resulting in stunted growth.
In celery, mosaic plant disease can cause the downward curling of young petioles. This gives your entire plant an open or flattened appearance. They may also develop vein-clearing while the interveinal areas can become dark and thick.
Cucurbits can experience severe growth stunting, mosaic patches on the leaves, and malformation of the healthy plants themselves. Systemic infections can cause the leaves to curl downward, develop a mosaic pattern, and remain small. Flowers may have greenish petals.
Meanwhile, infected fruits may have a distorted and discolored appearance. They may also remain small and may produce very few seeds.
Peppers, on the other hand, may develop mosaic and necrotic similar symptoms. Fruits tend to develop a wrinkled and bumpy appearance with pale to yellowish-green coloring. They may also ripen irregularly.
Tomato mosaic virus can cause filiform where the plants develop thin, shoestring-like tomato leaves. Severely infected plants often fail to produce fruit. If they form fruits with viral diseases, they often remain small and become necrotic.
Control and Prevention of Mosaic Viruses
A key thing to remember about mosaic viruses is that there is no cure for them. You can only prevent and control them.
If your plants are already showing mosaic symptoms or symptoms of an infection, it’s best to remove all infected plants and plant debris, destroy and dispose of the plant material properly. Do not put them in your compost pile. Seal them tightly in a plastic bag and throw them out.
Be sure to monitor other garden plants that may not be showing symptoms of tobacco mosaic virus or signs of infection yet, especially those that are in close proximity to infected plants or diseased plants.
Make it a habit to disinfect gardening tools after every use since TMV particles can also survive for long periods of time in the absence of plant parts and plant matter on hard surfaces.
This is called mechanical transmission. When worker’s hands handle plants the tiny leaf hairs and some of the outer plant cells inevitably are damaged slightly and leak sap onto tools, hands, and clothing. This makes the spread of the disease worse.
Wipe them down with a weak bleach solution before using them for other plants to prevent the spread of the virus.
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Meanwhile, when it comes to prevention, your best course of action is to plant different plant species of virus-resistant varieties in your garden. Note, however, that even resistant varieties may not be completely immune to mosaic viruses.
Insects such as aphids and leafhoppers serve as vectors for tobacco mosaic disease and viruses and many other plant diseases and plant viruses. You can help control them by using reflective mulch such as aluminum foil.
Some weeds and perennial weeds may also serve as hosts for mosaic viruses, and they can transfer the virus to garden insects. Make it a habit to remove weeds regularly.
Some types of mosaic viruses are also seed-borne. If you’re planting a particularly susceptible crop like tomatoes, disinfect seeds such as tomato seeds by soaking in a 10% bleach solution first before planting.
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