Occurrence of viruses in irrigated wheat in Zambia.
Surveys were conducted during the cool-dry months of June-August 1997 and June-July 1998 for the presence of viruses in irrigated wheat in Central, Copperbelt, Lusaka and Southern Provinces of Zambia in 14 commercial farms and four wheat cultivar plots. Virus symptoms were observed on nine wheat cultivars (Triticum aestivum 'Deka', 'Gamtoos', 'Lorie II', 'MM2', 'Nata', 'Nkwazi', 'P7', 'Scan' and 'Sceptre') of South African, Zambian and Zimbabwean origin. Several viruses were identified on the basis of field symptomatology, symptoms developing on mechanically inoculated indicator plant species or cultivars and serology (DAS-ELISA). The study revealed the occurrence of Brome mosaic virus (BMV), Barley stripe mosaic virus (BSMV), Barley yellow dwarf virus and its strains (BYDV-PAV and RPV), Soil-borne wheat mosaic virus (SBWMV), Wheat dwarf virus (WDV), Wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) and Wheat spindle streak mosaic virus (WSSMV). DSA-ELISA tests confirmed these identifications. The prevalence of viruses varied annually and from field to field. BSMV, BYDV-PAV, SBWMV, WDV, WSMV and WSSMV were found to be the most prevalent viruses. Viruses generally occurred in mixed infections of 3-6 viruses and the most common virus complex consisted of 4 viruses (50%), viz. BYDV, SBWMV, WDV and WSSMV. Five- and six-virus complexes were relatively less common (20% each) whereas 3-virus complex was noticed in only 10% cases. SBWMV and WSSMV have been found to be new to Africa and Zambia and are reportedly vectored by a fungal protist Polymyxa graminis. BYDV strains MAV and SGV were also tested but gave negative results against their antisera.