Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Virus invasions of the New Zealand flora.

Abstract

More than 200 plant viruses and many of their invertebrate vectors have invaded New Zealand (NZ) in the last two centuries. All of these invaders are associated with introduced agricultural, horticultural and/or weed species. At least 16 of the viruses have invaded the native flora, including some rare and critically endangered species. Patterns are emerging: aphid transmitted viruses which are able to infect species from a number of families are prominent. For example, Cucumber mosaic virus infects native species from seven families. There are also examples of viruses with more restricted host ranges invading individual families, particularly the native grasses. The yellow dwarf viruses have escaped from cereals and pasture into native grasses. Some of the species are also native to Australia and the Pacific Islands and the review and its literature should be of interest to those working further afield. Prospects for controlling or mitigating the effects of the viruses in agricultural systems have limited application in the native flora but they are relevant to propagation and rescue strategies. Biosecurity measures are not only the first line of defence against threats to agriculture but also to the conservation estate. The protection of native floras from virus invasion is another justification for the control measures and legislative procedures already in place to protect agriculture. High throughput sequencing to detect all viruses at the border, and genetic engineering and RNAi technologies to mitigate the effects of invasions are promising developments for the protection of the native flora.