Little Cherry Disease (LChV-1 & LChV-2)
The cool, wet spring revealed an outbreak of little cherry disease virus in Washington.
Our laboratory identified the cause of the disease as Little cherry virus 2, one of two viruses that cause this disease.
Little cherry virus causes trees to produce smaller than normal fruit. The fruit produced doesn’t ripen normally or taste as good.
In the middle of the last century, this virus spread rapidly across the fruit growing area of British Columbia almost destroying British Columbia’s cherry industry. We need to be proactive to control the disease in Washington. You can read more in a Good Fruit Grower article on our research or take a look at the Little cherry fact sheet.
The first goal in developing a management strategy is to find out where the disease is located in the state. Currently, there are tests that can identify the virus but they are too expensive to be cost effective for large scale testing. The immediate goal of CPCNW’s research into the Little cherry disease is to create a test that can be used economically.
In the lab, Postdoctoral research associate Dr. Tefera Mekuria clones the genes that produce the coat proteins encapsulating the little cherry genetic material. From these clones he’ll gather information that will help develop a monoclonal antibody that will detect LChV-1 and LChV-2 using more cost-efficient ELISA testing.
Expanding our knowledge of the gene sequences also opens the door for the development of novel assays that will allow for more large-scale testing of trees.
So far the research has revealed promising data that is being translated into further research developments.
Part of this research is being supported by the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.