- Author: Steven T. Koike
Two important virus pathogens have been affecting coastal lettuce crops for a number of years. As expected, both problems have shown up again this summer of 2010. These virus diseases are familiar to experienced growers and pest control advisors. However, one should exercise caution in diagnosing these problems because their respective symptoms can resemble each other.
Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV): INSV-infected plants have leaves with brown to dark brown spots and dead (necrotic) areas; this necrotic tissue can resemble burn damage caused by pesticide or fertilizer applications. Extensive necrosis can cause much of the leaf to become brown, dry, and dead. Some leaf yellowing can also be observed. Yellowing and the brown spotting tend to be observed on the newer leaves near the center of the plant’s growing point. If plants are affected with INSV early in their development, growth may be stunted. All lettuce types are susceptible, and INSV has been confirmed on iceberg, butterhead, romaine, and leaf lettuces. INSV can infect many other crops and weed species; the virus is vectored by thrips.
Lettuce necrotic stunt virus (LNSV) and Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV): Diseased lettuce can be severely stunted, especially if infected early in plant development. The oldest, outer leaves can be severely yellowed. Brown, necrotic spots and lesions later develop in these outer leaves. The younger, inner leaves remain dark green in color, but can be rough and leathery. LNSV/TBSV infects only romaine, butterhead, and leaf lettuces; modern cultivars of iceberg lettuce are immune. The LNSV/TBSV virus complex is a soilborne problem. No vector (insect, nematode, fungus) is known to spread these viruses.
See table below for comparison of these virus disease symptoms. For help in diagnosing these and other plant problems, submit samples to the UC Cooperative Extension diagnostic lab in Salinas.
|Symptom comparisons for INSV and LNSV/TBSV pathogens of lettuce|
|Presence of yellowing, chlorosis||yes||yes|
|Yellowing mostly on older leaves||no||yes|
|Brown necrotic spots, lesions||yes||yes|
|Stunting if infected early||yes||yes|
|Central part of plant remains green||no||yes|
|Affects romaine and leaf lettuce||yes||yes|
|Affects iceberg head lettuce||yes||no|
Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) on lettuce
Lettuce necrotic stunt virus (LNSV) on lettuce.