Pierce's Disease
Research Updates


What is Pierce's Disease?

Pierce's Disease is a bacterial infection, which is spread by bugs that feed on grapevines, particularly the "glassy winged sharpshooter." Grapevines that become infected with PD can quickly become sick and die.

glassy-winged sharpshooter

A new Phytoreovirus infecting the glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis).

  • Author(s): Backus, EA; Hunter, WB; Krugner, R; Sisterson, MS; Stenger, DC;
  • Abstract: A new virus species of the genus Phytoreovirus was isolated from glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS), Homalodisca vitripennis Germar (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), in California and designated here as Homalodisca vitripennis reovirus (HoVRV). Extraction of nucleic acid from GWSS adults collected from three Californian populations revealed an array of double-stranded (ds) RNA species that was soluble in 2 M LiCl and resistant to degradation upon exposure to S1 nuclease and DNase. Analysis of nucleic acid samples from single GWSS adults indicated that HoVRV dsRNA accumulated to high titer in individual insects. Double-shelled isometric virus particles purified from GWSS adults resembled those observed in thin sections of GWSS salivary glands by transmission electron microscopy. Purified HoVRV virions contained 12 dsRNA segments that, based on complete nucleotide sequences, ranged in size from 4475 to 1040 bp. Sequence comparisons indicated that the HoVRV dsRNA segments were most closely related (58.5 to 43.7% nt sequence identity) to the corresponding genome segments of Rice dwarf virus (RDV). Each HoVRV dsRNA segment encoded a single open reading frame (>300 nts) except for segment 11, which appears to be dicistronic. Terminal nucleotide sequences of HoVRV positive-sense RNAs were similar to other phytoreoviruses (GGCG or GGCA at the 5'-end and UGAU or CGAU at the 3'-end) with adjacent imperfect inverted repeats potentially able to base pair. Phylogenetic analyses of the RNA-directed RNA polymerase (encoded by segment 1) and the outer capsid protein (encoded by segment 8) confirmed placement of HoVRV as a species of the genus Phytoreovirus sharing a most recent common ancestor with RDV. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assays revealed that HoVRV infection of GWSS in California was common and that the virus also occurred in GWSS populations from the Carolinas and Texas.
  • Publication Date: Feb 2009
  • Journal: Virology.