Symptoms include mottling (blotchy light/dark discoloration of leaf tissue), yellow ring spots or line patterns, localized necrotic (dead) lesions, chlorotic spots or streaks or notched leaves. Plants infected at a young age may also exhibit a variety of leaf and stem deformities. This virus is spread primarily by stubby-root nematodes, a group of microscopic worm-like organisms. Nematodes feed on the roots of infected plants, then move to non-infected plants where subsequent feeding spreads the virus. TRV can also be spread mechanically with contaminated pruning tools and by grafting. This virus can also be found in the seeds of infected plants.
Once infected with Tobacco Rattle Virus, plants remain so indefinitely. There is no way to eliminate the virus and infected plants should be removed and destroyed. Consider planting plants that are not susceptible to TRV. Some examples include: Annual phlox, carnation, devil's trumpet (downy thorn apple), sweet william, zinnia and zombie cucumber. Carefully inspect plants before purchasing; do not buy symptomatic plants. To avoid spreading via mechanical means during propagation, clean tools between cuts by dipping them for at least 30 seconds in the following solution: 1% sodium laurel sulfate (use 10% shampoo as the source) and 1% Alconox (an industrial detergent). Control of nematodes that transmit TRV is not practical in the home garden setting.
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