Rose rosette is a novel threat to seemingly all cultivars of roses, even those previously known and used specifically for their disease resistance. Symptoms include: increased shoot elongation, reddish discoloration of shoots and foliage, abundant clustering of small shoots (also called “witches broom”), spiraling growth of main stem, less space between leaf shoots, distorted leaves, prolific thorns, mottled blooms, deformed buds or flowers and decrease in winter hardiness. A virus has been identified as the cause of rose rosette disease, aptly names “rose rosette virus” or RRV. It appears to be vector borne, transmitted via eriophyd mites.
This month, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced nearly $4.6 billion in funding to research, mitigate and manage this devastating disease. Funding is being provided through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, as a part of the 2014 Farm Bill. Garden roses contribute $400 million to the country’s landscape industry annually, RRV has the potential to be an overwhelming economic loss.
Research being funded by the USDA grant will include working with private growers and breeders to develop rose rosette-resistant breeding germplasm and molecular markers. This will aid in the efficient and efficacy of integrating resistance into commercial roses, developing diagnostic tools and best management practices, monitoring and tracking the disease and collecting data regarding consumer and grower preferences for rose traits, and marketing or economic barriers.
Dr. David Byrne of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research is leading the research project which kicked off with the industry-sponsored Rose Rosette Summit in April. The summit was able to get all concerned parties into one room to discuss the problem with input from all perspectives. A framework was developed as well as a website dedicated to the national study and ever evolving action plans: http://americanhort.theknowledgecenter.com/OnDemand/index.cfm?view=category&colid=143&cid=377. The research team, led by Dr. Byrne, consists of experts from across the nation in plant pathology, entomology, plant breeding and genetics, best management practices, diagnostics, molecular genetics and economics. This team will enjoy substantial industry support and will collaborate with rose growers in California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and The Plant Research Institute in the Netherlands.
For more information on plant pathology and disease management and control on your landscape plants talk to your arborist and visit: http://www.savatree.com/shrub-care.html.