Global Theme: International Plant Virus Disease Network

A program working to detect and diagnose plant virus diseases, a major constraint to vegetable production in developing countries


Plant virus diseases transmitted by insect vectors and through seed or germplasm continue to be one of the major constraints on vegetable production in the tropics and in developing countries. These diseases present numerous challenges for detection and diagnosis, understanding pathogen biology, and management.  These challenges arise from the near impossibility of identifying specific viruses by symptomatology alone, the complex biology and ecology of viruses in crops and natural ecosystems,  their effective dissemination by vectors (e.g. aphids, thrips, whiteflies), and the lack of chemical controls for virus diseases.

The objectives of the International Plant Virus Disease Network (IPVDN) encompass documenting virus presence in priority crops by detection and diagnosis, and capacity building and training in plant virus diagnosis, ecology, vector transmission, and epidemiology. In collaboration with the regional IPM programs, the knowledge gained is used to formulate and validate IPM packages for viral disease management.

Program achievements and highlights

  • Symposia organization and presentation: The IPVDN co-organized a plant virology symposium, Management of Insect-transmitted Virus Diseases in Vegetables in the Tropics and Subtropics, at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India, in July 2012. Virologists and entomologists working with the program shared research, building multidisciplinary expertise and addressing virus diseases that impact sustainability and food security in developing countries. The program also organized a special session at the International Plant Virus Epidemiology Symposium in January 2013 in Tanzania. The session introduced an international group of scientists to IPM Innovation Lab activities and accomplishments in plant virology in developing countries.
  • Virus Ecology: The efficacy of one IPM practice—the host-free period—was demonstrated by the program in the Dominican Republic and Mali. The host-free period reduces the incidence of whitefly-transmitted begomoviruses in tomato. Appraisals of virus ecology and temporal and spatial dynamics of aphid and whitefly vector species and populations are continuing.
  • Virus Identification: Viruses have been documented in over 20 crops and weeds. Viruses have been identified that belong to 11 different genera, with whitefly-transmitted begomoviruses and aphid-transmitted potyviruses being the most prevalent.
  • IPM Package Development: Effects of IPM packages on the incidence of viruses are now being reported from several countries and on several crops.
  • Short- and long-term training: The program cooperates with the diagnostic global theme to include virology training in their workshops. Program scientists have held workshops in several countries to augment diagnostic capacity for plant virus monitoring.  Host country scientists collaborating with U.S.-based virologists train graduate students in virus research, with some of the same scientists and students visiting U.S.-based labs to learn diagnostic techniques.

Phase IV official program title

Toward the Effective Integrated Pest Management of Plant Disease Caused by Viruses in Developing Countries


Principal Investigator

Sue Tolin, Virginia Tech


Judy Brown, University of Arizona | Robert Gilbertson, University of California-Davis | Naidu Rayapati, Washington State University


Ecuador: Diego Quito, CIBE-ESTOL

Ghana: Michael Osei, Crops Research Institute; Eric Cornelius, University of Ghana

Guatemala: Margarita Palmieri, Univ. del Valle de Guatemala; Marco Arevalo, Agroexpertos

Honduras: Mauricio Rivera, FHIA

India: G. Karthikeyan, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University; Nutan Kaushik, TERI-New Delhi

Indonesia: Sri Hendrastuti Hidayat, IPB, Bogor Agricultural University; Tri Asmira Damayanti

Kenya: Miriam Otipa, KARI

Tajikistan: Nurali Saidov

Tanzania: Peter Sseruwagi, Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute

Uganda: Mildred Ochoa-Ssemakula and Jeninah Karungi, Makerere University