- Plant resistant varieties where available.
- Never propagate from material that has not been virus-tested.
- Know the viruses that circulate in your area and their vectors.
- Never plant in fields with history of soil-borne viruses.
- Avoid areas with high incidence of pollen-borne virus. You cannot control pollen.
“Back in the early to mid-2000s, two major developments occurred that impacted blackberry production, particularly in the South and California. The first was the identification of several new viruses present in blackberries, including blackberry yellow vein associated virus, followed by a number of others along with numerous virus combinations in subsequent years. The second development was a substantial increase in planting of Arkansas-developed blackberries, established for the domestic commercial shipping market. This expansion coincided with the establishment of NCPN. Plantings that were established using non-virus-tested material often showed virus symptoms, with the worst infections seen in North Carolina. Plantings showing symptoms often were low in vigor and productivity, as well as short lived. However, with virus testing put in place from the mid-2000s onward, and expanded further as NCPN activities increased, virus-tested plants produced in tissue culture became the standard practice for new variety introductions from Arkansas. The first was Natchez, followed by Prime-Ark® 45, Prime-Ark® Freedom, Prime-Ark® Traveler, Osage and Black Magic. These were all virus tested for a broad range of viruses, and often heat treated, with the process carried out by the USDA-ARS NCPN unit in Corvallis, OR. The initial commercial stock introduced into the nursery trade was “clean”, resulting in millions of plants and hundreds of acres of plantings established with substantially increased success compared to just a few years prior. Along with the new varieties themselves, the NCPN accomplishments contributed greatly to this increase in plantings, grower profits, and quality blackberries for US consumers. This has provided one of the most impressive success stories in berries in recent years, and it would not have come about without the establishment of NCPN, and the commitment of the USDA-ARS Corvallis unit.”
Jenny Broome, Ph.D, Global Research-Plant Health Dept. Manager, Driscoll's, Watsonville California
“We take clean stock very seriously. Our independent growers want to grow our berries because they taste great, but also because of our nursery's commitment to start clean and stay clean.”
Josh Beam, Ph.D, Precision Ag Specialist for Western North Carolina
“Clean plants are the most important start to blackberry farming. Without clean plants you are setting yourself up for failure. Clean plants ensure your farm has the best chance to succeed. We are very grateful that clean plants are available for purchase for our farm and others in the area.”
Jon Umble, Production Planning and Research Manager, Fall Creek Nursery, Lowell, Oregon
“We are a global nursery company focused on blueberries. Clean plant systems have a been foundational aspect of our business and have tremendous benefits within the nursery, for our customers and the entire blueberry industry. Recent NCPN-related work in virus discovery, diagnostics and elimination have been critical to facilitating the worldwide movement of new cultivars from breeding programs and into grower's fields.”
Bob Martin's interests are as diverse as the berry crops of which he is so passionate. Perhaps this is the result of growing up with 10 siblings and adapting to the wide variety of personalities and priorities on the family dairy farm in Wisconsin. Hard work and a can-do attitude shaped Bob's world view and the result is an ever-present smile and optimism that influences both his personal and professional life.
Armed with a B.S. in Forestry and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bob set out for the west coast to hone his expertise in strawberry viruses.
Bob Martin's seminal work on double-stranded RNA led to the development of protocols for the high-throughput sequencing of plant viruses. He also discovered and elucidated the epidemiology of the important viruses of strawberry, Rubus and blueberry. Dr. Martin was also one of the pioneers of transgenic technology in the quest to develop virus-resistant plants. Since 2000, Bob's research has focused on virus complexes and elucidation of diseases of unknown etiology. He and his group of fellow researchers have identified and studied more than 70 virus species infecting berries, vegetables, aromatic plants and ornamentals.
Dr. Martin works closely with growers, identifying and addressing problems as they arise in the field, and developing methods for both diagnostics and disease management. This work has had tremendous impact and resulted in economic benefits for berry growers in the United States and throughout the world where these crops are planted.
Most of Bob's siblings have advanced degrees and several have made similar contributions to the agricultural industry. His sister, Rose Gergerich, is faculty emeritus in plant virology at University of Arkansas and served as the NCPN-Berries coordinator for many years. And as siblings will do, she delights in dishing details that don't appear on Bob's CV. Apparently among friends and family, Bob is known for his love of good wine and Mountain Dew. In fact, one of his hobbies is making wine, and to anyone who knows Bob, it is no surprise that he has chosen the label “Bottled Optimism.” Considering his rural roots and extensive contributions to U.S. agriculture, it is also not surprising that one of Bob's favorite country tunes is "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" sung by John Denver. Berry lovers around the world are equally grateful.
Harmonization of Blueberry and Rubus Certification Guidelines
The NCPN-Berries group is working with various State Departments of Agriculture to implement pilot projects on the Harmonization of Blueberry and Rubus certification. These efforts are being supported through the Farm Bill section 10007 on Protecting American Agriculture. Pilot projects are underway for blueberry in Michigan, Oregon and Washington.
Virfind Bioinformatics Pipeline
Virfind is a custom-made bioinformatics pipeline able to detect all known viruses and most importantly identify new ones. The pipeline, funded by NCPN, is publicly available since 2014 and is being used by hundreds of users on all continents. In recent months it has expanded its user base to include human, animal and marine virology. For more information please visit the Virfind website.
Recent NCPN-affiliated publications on berry crop viruses:
Thekke-Veetil, T. and Tzanetakis, I.E. 2016. First report of strawberry polerovirus-1 in strawberry in the United States. Plant Disease, in press
Thien Ho, T., Quito-Avila, D., Keller, K.E., Postman, J.D., Martin, R.R. and Tzanetakis, I.E. 2016. Evidence of sympatric speciation of elderberry carlaviruses. Virus Research 215: 72-75. doi.10.1016/j.virusres.2016.01.017
Lanning, K.K., Moore, P.P. and Martin, R.R. 2015. First report of a resistance-breaking strain of Raspberry bushy dwarf virus in red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) in North America. Plant Disease, http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-09-15-1011-PDN.