Scientists have discovered a new strawberry virus. For its timely detection, they have developed a quick diagnostic kit
Scientists at the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences (BC CAS) have discovered a new plant virus that severely impacts the yield of certain strawberry cultivars. To combat this emerging threat, they've developed a diagnostic kit capable of swiftly and accurately detecting the virus. This kit allows detection of the virus already in seedlings, effectively preventing the spread of the infection. The achievement was recognized with an award from the Minister of Agriculture of the Czech Republic in late August.
Presently, more than 30 different strawberry viruses are known to exist. Among them, three pose the most significant challenges to Czech strawberry growers: the strawberry mottle virus, strawberry crinkle virus, and strawberry mild yellow edge virus. Most strawberry viruses exhibit nonspecific symptoms, such as preliminary reddening of leaves, stunted growth, or plant mortality. Some, however, remain asymptomatic yet yields are still sometimes slashed by as much as 60%.
Recent research by scientists at the Institute of Plant Molecular Biology within BC CAS unveiled a new addition to this virus group, provisionally named "strawberry virus 1" [Fránová et al., 2019]. Collaborating with experts from the Research and Breeding Institute of Pomology in Holovousy, they discovered that this virus was responsible for reducing the harvest of select strawberry varieties by up to one-third and diminishing the number of runners (offshoots) by almost half [Valentová et al., 2022]. Thus, this virus not only affects the fertility of the plants but also disrupts the propagation of strawberries through daughter plants obtained from runners.
Image: A working sample of the StrV-1 virus antibody detection kit (2 small vials in the middle) with positive and negative controls (left – dried, right – fresh leaves). Photo: J. Fránová.
To address the urgent need to detect this virus, the scientists at the Biology Centre developed the DAS-ELISA kit for rapid diagnosis. Plant virologist and co-author of the research, Igor Koloňuk, explains, "The kit operates on the principle of specific antibodies that can identify the presence of viral proteins. A notable innovation in the kit's development is the use of antibodies created against the recombinant protein of the virus." Recombinant proteins are produced through genetic engineering techniques, where the gene for the specific protein is introduced into another organism. The developed kit offers distinct advantages over the better-known PCR method—it is cost-effective and faster for routine analysis of numerous samples in diagnostic laboratories. A simple combination of leaf juice, buffers, and the newly developed kit is sufficient for diagnosis, with results available the following day.
Co-author of the research, Jana Fránová from the Biology Centre, emphasizes, "Early diagnosis and the selection of virus-free seedlings are of paramount importance in preventing the spread of viruses and mitigating future crop damages." She adds, "The diagnostic set is intended for use in agricultural diagnostic laboratories. A portion of the kit has been acquired by the Bioreba company and will be made available on the global market."
This remarkable achievement received the "Award for the Best Practically Realized Result" in 2023 from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic. Jana Fránová accepted the award from Minister of Agriculture Marek Výborný during the science and research award ceremony at the "Země živitelka" Exhibition Fair in České Budějovice on Thursday, August 24. The project was supported by the NAZVA program.
Fránová J, Přibylová J, Koloniuk I. Molecular and Biological Characterization of a New Strawberry Cytorhabdovirus. Viruses. 2019 Oct 24;11(11):982. doi: 10.3390/v11110982. PMID: 31653104; PMCID: PMC6893435.
Valentova, L., Rejlova, M., Franova, J. & Cmejla, R. (2022) Symptomless infection by strawberry virus 1 (StrV-1) leads to losses in strawberry yields. Plant Pathology, 71, 1220–1228. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/ppa.13548