Rose Rosette Research Group Updates

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The collaboration of researchers focused on combatting rose rosette disease (RRD) recently convened virtually to summarize key recent findings. AmericanHort and HRI participated. Some of the key updates reported include:

  • Diagnostics of the virus and the mites that transmit the disease both continue to be high priorities for the group. Ongoing efforts seek to develop field-testing kits that are not cost-prohibitive and provide quick, accurate results.
  • Roses vary greatly in their tolerance/susceptibility to RRD. In fact, several varieties of roses are even known to test positive for RRD but show no symptoms of the disease. No variety has been found to be truly resistant, despite researchers testing nearly 900 varieties. Therefore, all rose varieties are considered susceptible at this time.
  • Rose plants have been positively identified with RRD but have no mite populations.
  • At least three different mites are known to transmit RRD. There may be more.
  • Products to control both the virus and the mites are being evaluated. Though early in testing, some products look promising. Miticides, in particular, can be effective. However, basic biological information on the mites is still lacking. This information, once elucidated, will help pinpoint miticide application timings. Biocontrol products are also being considered.
  • A significant breeding effort is underway that incorporates molecular techniques to cut the traditional breeding timeline by about half. Other important attributes, such as black spot and Cercospora resistance, are also considered.

One of the most important aspects of this research is an outreach component. The team has developed a website to not only act as the RRD information clearinghouse, but to also be a tool for their efforts. The website encourages the public, including producers, retailers, and consumers, to report possible RRD findings. Even photos can be uploaded! A team member will review the photos and verify whether or not RRD is present and may ask for a sample submission. Several factsheets are also accessible from the site.

This multiyear project is entering its fourth year of work and has received $4.6 million in funding by USDA NIFA through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), one of our top Farm Bill priorities. Researchers intend to eventually turn this new information into usable best management practices for growers and landscape managers.

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