New Rose Rosette Disease Resource

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The research collaboration focusing on rose rosette disease (RRD) announced a new resource to aid in the early detection of the disease. The two-page educational piece, titled ‘Early Detection of Rose Rosette Disease,’ contains pictures and descriptions to help any rose enthusiast, from production to a home owner, identify the disease in the early stages. Photographs of other symptoms that may be confused with RRD are also included.

Photo: Dolly Parton hybrid tea rose disfigured by rose rosettee. Credit: Jennifer Olson, Oklahoma State University, Bugwood.org

Our understanding of RRD has improved greatly over the past five years, thanks in large part to the efforts of this research team, led by Dr. David Byrne, Texas A&M. The team received a multimillion-dollar grant through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA’s) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grant program that began in 2014 and will conclude August 2019.

Outreach has been a major effort of the group. They aim to reach a wide audience from professionals within environmental horticulture (breeders, production, landscape managers, retailers, marketers) as well as master gardeners and rosarians. A citizen science effort has been established on the group’s web site to gain information on the distribution of RRD & offer training. Anyone can report an RRD sighting and view an up-to-date distribution map.

Diagnostics have greatly improved for detecting the virus. A recent test was even able to detect the rose rosette virus in plant material that wasn’t expressing any symptoms. The team hopes to eventually make this tool commercially available. Beyond that, suppression or elimination of the virus without having to destroy the infected plant is an ultimate goal. 

Mite monitoring has also improved, leading to a better understanding of their movement. Eriophyid mites are one method of disease transmission, and these particular mites are quite adept at moving long distances on air currents. This makes control more challenging. Miticide applications can control the mite, if applied correctly. This approach needs to be better optimized to improve success and reduce input costs. 

Breeding efforts continue as well. Resistance to RRD is uncommon, and a range of resistance among garden roses seems unlikely. The research team has identified many molecular markers that will help accelerate breeding.

AmericanHort and its foundation, the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), supported funding of this research and continue to serve in an advisory capacity as the research effort continues. 

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