0 items

Color Breaks/Viruses

Color Breaks and viruses in plumeria are controversial subjects. Maui Plumeria Gardens does not purport to have expertise in this area but the following are posts made by repected forum members that may help in understanding the subject:

Author: Erv aka neonorchid
ALL color breaks in Plumeria are a result of a pathogen (virus). The virus causing the break could be a gladiola complex, bean yellow, cucumber mosaic, tobacco ring spot, tomato ring spot, tobacco rattle (M.F. Heimann, G.L. Worf), tomato spotted wilt virus(TSMV) or just the good old vulgare strain NC82, or Tobacco virus. There are literally thousands of stains of viruses, each one having its own DNA model.

All viruses must enter the plant via mechanical means. Insects, soil contamination, human intervention and gardening tools are the most common means.

Colors breaks, like the shingles and bells palsy in humans are random and occur due to a chlortic (chlorosis) condition. The virus remains dormant until chlorosis is triggered, usually from stress.

Color breaks can be stopped but only for one blooming cycle as the pathogen will remain in the host plant and breaks can and will continue throughout the life of the plant.

Many of you know that when I visit a home with a plumeria that has a break, the ONLY question asked is, "Can I have a leaf?"

Here's why:

I purchased three grafted PV's from FC last year to collect pathogens from. Two of these flowered. The first buds to open on each tree exacted the colors, characteristics and qualities of the "Metairie Pink" and had no color break. The pathogen from a known host infected tree was deliberately used to create a break in one of these two trees. Three weeks later a color break occurred on the final few flowers of the cycle.

Anyone can create a break in any plumeria at any time. Its a fairly easy process and the results are beautiful and stunning.

Color breaks are spectacular in their nature. But existing, known, and registered plumeria should not be considered a new variety. Simply put, it's a plumeria with a virus."

Jack aka Kimisdad:
As for the virus, it is now too late to do anything about the spread. Without ever buying in infected plants years ago our original blush pink plants had some infection (at least 15 yrs ago). What most do not realize is that cultivated virus in other species move to our plumeria. I have done that intentionally. That was from some geraniums, intentionally injecting cultivated virus to plumeria. So because of the lack of interest in educating oneself in general horticulture we now have zero or very few plants without some pathogen exposure. Any virus exposed plant is not a new variety. The International Horticultural Society is being pressured by the big dollars of other cultivars to accept these sick plants as "new". It is a bundle of BS. And so simple to create. So here you have some more of the puzzle. A big however, just like many viruses in humans, with good health practices they will not make this a fatal situation. Learn plant health and none of your infected plants will succumb to this infection. There are answers out there but it will take some effort to find them.

Author Jean aka capini:
In orchid culture, virus is as bad as it gets. The plants are destroyed before they have an opportunity to infect the rest of the collection. I know that many people find these plants attractive, but at what cost to your stock (and the stock you send out to other people?) Koko Crater in Hawaii is a testimony to the fact that virus travels thru a collection. I saw tree after tree with at least some part of it showing signs of virus. Virus weakens plants, and ultimately contributes to an early demise of a plant.

In my opinion, the only possible benefit of a virused plumeria is to the person making a killing selling it.

And yes, I so know that I am going against the popular grain here...but I think it is time we address virus in plumeria as what it really is...A DISEASE, and one that is difficult to control.

Author Hetty aka Dutchlady:
The tulip craze in Holland in the 17th and 18th century came to a tragic end because of the viruses infecting the bulbs; the trend was for more and more unusually and mottled colored blooms - which all turned out to be diseased. For me this (as well as the same thing happening in orchid circles) is a warning and I will personally keep color break plants far from my yard.

Author Dennis:
I would have to say you are dead on because: On April 30 2005 we had a little party at FCN and Luc stated the same. He will destroy anything that he sees that has any signs of a virus and he stated the same reasons as yours that the plant will become weak and die over the long haul.

Author Brad: (edited)
I am happy about my color break. I do have Mermaids Splash, but am not sure about that one as it is not random, but consistent, even on new cuttings. ALSO--Mermaid's Splash comes from a tree over 65 years old that has been documented to have always had this same "color-break" to it, and was a HUGE 40 foot tree until it was removed to make way for a new house in Australia.

I am no botanist, nor do I study molecular biolgy, so I respect the opinions of those that do. That being said, I have to wonder that if all color break causing pathogens are bad, and lead to sick plants, why then is the original Princess Victoria tree not dead or very sick after all these years, and, why are there so may of its cuttings thriving and growing into large trees out there, many of which exhibit the same patterns (even though some don't)?

One more thought/question---aren't the variegations that appear in some popular houseplants caused by viruses, and, haven't these been cultivated for many years as such with no negative consequences? This is another thing that I am not clear on. Interesting topic for discussion at any rate.

Author Kukiat:
Link on Frangipani mosaic tobamovirus.

The Frangipani mosaic tobamovirus can be "Transmitted by means not involving a vector. Virus transmitted by mechanical inoculation."

Author Clare aka clare_ca:
From what I understand, you are right that a virus is often used to create variegation in the leaves of plants such as Abutilons and Begonias, and I think some plants can live with a virus and do fine. The Passiflora "Incense" hybrid that was propagated commerically and sold all over the country has the Cucumber Mosaic Virus. All the plants sold commerically have it since the parent plant had it. Once the symptoms begin showing -- extremely poor flowering and mottled leaves -- the vine will quickly deteriorate. They have since come up with a new Passiflora "Incense," which is supposed to be virus free. In some cases, a virus will cause the ultimate demise of a plant/vine, and in some cases, a plant can carry a virus and be unaffected. It is my understanding that many plants do carry viruses without showing symptoms and that tropical plants are the most susceptible to viruses.

Author Robert:
Virus can be an issue, but then it doesn't have to be. Almost all plumeria are infected with rust, as almost every person on earth has some herpes simplex or another......when we are strong and our immune system is up, we are fine, but with a little stress we can get a cold sore....that is the virus "showing". When the plumeria are growing strong and healthy they are fine but when the sunny days go away and get colder and the plants have to work hard to stay warm, they become susceptible to the rust and it starts to "show"...Plumeria have a lot of pathogens including bacteria and virus.....some of the virus can cause color breaking...it can also be spread....so if you don;t want that to happen, use a disenfectant when using cutting tools from one plant to another...and watch the leaf drop of infected plants, as the leaves will spread it, too.....but no need for too much worry, IMHO.....just precaution, and knowing the plants....but, usually, a very healthy plant with a color break causing virus will often not show it, or "show" few signs of the virus...if the health is not as great, it can display more effects....a good immune boost treatment on the plant can wipe out any sign of virus and color break, as good medications can also do for people to supress herpes outbreaks....ya see.....virus climb into places in the plant and peoples blood supply that are protected from the immune system by a tightly knit barrier that prevents the antibodies from getting to them..when the plant or person gets weak the virus will explore out of it's protected place...if it can it spreads...if the plant or person is or gets healthy, the virus retreats back to the safe places and hides....there it usually doesn't cause any visable damage......if you have a plant that has a color break it is not the end of the world, but i also agree that we should question why so many desire them....me included.....i like them, but do not want them on all of my plants.....so, i must keep them apart and also accept it as my own dumb fault if it spreads....so on that wisdom, i should get rid of them...but i won't throw away any plants...sorry. But what has happened at Koko crater shows it can get out of hand....use precaution for sure.......i do know of private collectioons where it has spread....so, maybe not good at all....who knows.....but a plant can go on living a healthy life with it..but it may stunt and cause problems for it, also........

All that said.....i would like to respectfully disagree that all color breaks are caused by pathogens....I know that at least a couple are caused by multiple dna's existing in the same plant...a chimera or mosaic. These are rare, but cause color breaks and are not viral and will never go away, and can't be spread....this is a genetic issue, not a patogen and can cause color breaks.....also...extreme temperatures and other types of shock can cause a breakdown in the complicated and many-layered systems that create plant colors...especially the darker pigmented plants like reds can have a break down at different levels forming the pigments and co-pigments like anthocyanins.....if the plant needs the sugars somplace else, the colors can break while forming....also, in extreme heat...bursts of sugars created in the plant can cause granulation, speckling, color breaking and streaking....so, a virus is not the only suspect...IMHO....but the most likely.

Author Jack aka kimisdad:
This study has been around for some time. However it discusses only one type of virus. The tobacco mosaic is not prevalent here. It is a fact that there are a multitude of virus that can and do cause a color break. In high dollar commercial flowers the color breaks have been modified to be permanent. Some have (Erv) isolated them in plumeria. And not all virus spread in the same manner. I have to agree with Clare the many virus responsible for what we see as color breaks are spread by other means not known and insects could be the culprit. What about the mechanical means of the insect? As in growing vegetables for years I knew that if I saw cucumber beetles I had the chance one of my plants would contact bacteria wilt and when this happened nothing could be done to save the plant. Though this is not a virus, if an infected plant has a virus the question is could it be transferred in that way? The problem all the years in our raising plumeria, there are not many scientific answers out there. We only can go by observation and that is a non scientific hit and miss situation. The rate of increase that we see in the color break intentional and not intentional tells me it is a futile situation. You cannot see the virus only the results of the virus and there is no cure available only suppression and that becomes another question.

Author Jean aka capini:
Here was an interesting piece

Author Clare aka clare_ca:
Here's another good link that Kukiat just sent me which looks like a comprehensive list of Plant Viruses: http://image.fs.uidaho.edu/vide/genus046.htm

It lists the genus and species of susceptible and nonsusceptible hosts. I grow some listed in the genus but not the species. Anyway, the most one can do is sterilize your cutting tools after each cut and be aware of the sucking insects in your yard. I know growers who boil their cutting tools every night or put them through the dishwashwer. I use Sani-Cloth Plus germicidal disposable cloth to wipe down my cutting tools after each cut. They are bactericidal, tuberculocidal, and virucidal. It kills nearly everything. I also use bleach quite a bit to clean containers and things. I used oil-based products to combat the sucking insects such as whiteflies, thrips, and aphids, and I used Avid and Bayer's Systemic granules to combat mites.

I agree that the FMV has the ability to reach terrible proportions and muddy the gene pool so-to-speak if it is not controlled. This seems to already be happening in Hawaii.

Here is another good link about brugs and viruses: http://www.abads.net/brugvirus.htm I grow brugs as well as plumerias so this is of interest to me. The Tobacco Mosaic Virus tends to strike those in the Solanaceae family. There are some other good links on that page including information about Fusarium Wilt.

Author Clare aka clare_ca:
Hawaii often comes up in threads about viruses and invasive species. Because of the favorable climate, they often can't get rid of things that would normally die in areas which freeze. Also, Koko Crater was brought up as having a massive problem with FMV. Here is an article written by two educators at the University of Hawaii at Manoa: http://www.extento.hawaii.edu/kbase/crop/Type/cucvir.htm

Author Kathee aka twistedparrot:
This is all fascinating stuff, folks! I'm afraid I fall squarely in the anti-virus camp for all the reasons that have been mentioned -- not the least of which is that there simply isn't enough information specifically related to plumies yet as Jack said.

Robert, just a point of reference: Rust is not a virus. It's a fungus. Viruses can reproduce only within a host cell (they have no independent reproductive mechanism); fungi reproduce by spores (which is what we see as the rust-colored "dots" on plumie leaves). Fungi spread by passing their spores along to other organisms, which then develop the fungal infection. One of the nastiest characteristics of viruses is that there is no known "cure" for any of them (although there are treatments to make their effects less severe). Bacteria respond to antibiotics, and fungi respond to anti-fungal preparations. Because viruses essentially become part of the host cell, they are "shed" along with host cells, which is why they spread so rapidly and covertly.