Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Sugarcane mosaic virus
(mosaic of abaca)



Sugarcane mosaic virus (mosaic of abaca)


  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Sugarcane mosaic virus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • mosaic of abaca
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Virus
  •   Unknown: "Positive sense ssRNA viruses"
  •     Unknown: "RNA viruses"
  •       Family: Potyviridae
  •         Genus: Potyvirus

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Sugarcane CP31-588 infected with SCMV-SC showing yellow streaks and slight necrosis.
TitleSymptoms on leaf
CaptionSugarcane CP31-588 infected with SCMV-SC showing yellow streaks and slight necrosis.
CopyrightDavid S. Teakle
Sugarcane CP31-588 infected with SCMV-SC showing yellow streaks and slight necrosis.
Symptoms on leafSugarcane CP31-588 infected with SCMV-SC showing yellow streaks and slight necrosis. David S. Teakle
TitleSymptoms on maize plants
Symptoms on maize plants©CIMMYT
Transmission electron micrograph of flexuous, rod-shaped particles of SCMV x40 000.
TitleVirus particles
CaptionTransmission electron micrograph of flexuous, rod-shaped particles of SCMV x40 000.
CopyrightDavid S. Teakle
Transmission electron micrograph of flexuous, rod-shaped particles of SCMV x40 000.
Virus particlesTransmission electron micrograph of flexuous, rod-shaped particles of SCMV x40 000.David S. Teakle


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Sugarcane mosaic virus

Preferred Common Name

  • mosaic of abaca

Other Scientific Names

  • abaca mosaic potyvirus
  • Abaca mosaic virus
  • European maize dwarf virus
  • grass mosaic virus
  • maize dwarf mosaic potyvirus strain B
  • maize dwarf mosaic virus strain B
  • sorghum concentric ringspot potyvirus
  • sorghum red stripe virus
  • sugarcane mosaic potyvirus

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Zuckerrohr Mosaikvirus

English acronym

  • SCMV

EPPO code

  • SCMV00 (Sugarcane mosaic potyvirus)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Virus
  •     Unknown: "Positive sense ssRNA viruses"
  •         Unknown: "RNA viruses"
  •             Family: Potyviridae
  •                 Genus: Potyvirus
  •                     Species: Sugarcane mosaic virus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page This virus was described from sugarcane by Brandes (1919). Strains naturally infecting certain other hosts are also known as abaca mosaic potyvirus (Eloja and Tinsley, 1963) and as maize dwarf mosaic potyvirus strain B (Mackenzie et al., 1966; Louie and Knoke, 1975).

Until recently, most aphid-borne potyviruses infecting sugarcane and other members of the Poaceae were assumed to be either sugarcane mosaic virus or maize dwarf mosaic virus. However, new criteria for speciation of these members of the Potyviridae have been proposed (Shukla et al., 1989; Shukla et al., 1992; Shukla and Ward, 1994): the amino-acid sequence homology of their coat proteins, and serological relationships with antisera derived from epitopes in the amino terminus rather than the core region of the coat protein. Using these criteria, virus isolates previously included as strains of sugarcane mosaic virus or maize dwarf mosaic virus have been placed in four distinct viruses: sugarcane mosaic virus itself (USA strains A, B, D and E, Australian strains SC, BC and Sabi, and USA maize dwarf mosaic strain B); Johnsongrass mosaic virus (Australian sugarcane mosaic virus strain JG, USA maize dwarf mosaic strains O and Kansas 1; Shukla and Teakle, 1989; McKern et al., 1990; note that Johnsongrass is Sorghum halepense); maize dwarf mosaic virus (USA strains A, D, E and F; Ford et al., 1989); and sorghum mosaic virus (USA sugarcane mosaic virus strains H, I and M; Shukla et al., 1989).

For further information, see Taxonomy section of data sheet on maize dwarf mosaic potyvirus.


Top of page Particles are flexuous filaments of about 750 x 13 nm (Teakle et al., 1989). The coat protein comprises a single polypeptide species of Mr 35,000 and 328 amino-acid residues (Frenkel et al., 1991). Partial amino-acid sequences for coat protein of the sugarcane, Queensland blue couch grass and Sabi grass strains are given by Shukla et al. (1987).

The nucleic acid is a single ssRNA species of ca Mr 3,400,000, which comprises ca 5% of the weight of the particle (Berger et al., 1988; Frenkel et al., 1991).


Top of page SCMV is present in most of the major sugarcane-producing countries of the world. Exceptions are Mozambique and Guyana (Koike and Gillaspie, 1989), Mauritius (Ricaud, 1980) and possibly Madeira (ISSCT, 1989).

Since the recent realization that sorghum mosaic virus (previously called sugarcane mosaic virus strains H, I and M) as well as SCMV can cause mosaic of sugarcane, the identity of potyviruses in sugarcane has been in doubt in some countries. On the basis of the current taxonomic criteria, all isolates of potyviruses infecting sugarcane in Australia have been found to be sugarcane mosaic virus. However, in Louisiana, USA, most recent isolates are sorghum mosaic virus (previously sugarcane mosaic virus strains H, I and M; Grisham, 1994). Sorghum mosaic virus (SCMV-H) is also known to occur in Japan (Gillaspie and Mock, 1979) and India (Kondaiah and Nayudu, 1984). The viruses infecting sugarcane in many other countries is unclear.

In some countries, some potyviruses that were previously called SCMV and that infect grasses are now classed as sorghum mosaic, Johnsongrass mosaic or maize dwarf mosaic viruses. For example, SCMV-johnsongrass strain in Australia is now called Johnsongrass mosaic virus (Shukla and Teakle, 1989). In Japan, a SCMV resembling the A strain occurs in Paspalum conjugatum and can infect some sugarcane varieties on inoculation (Ohtsu and Gomi, 1985).

In Australia, SCMV is localized in Queensland and unrecorded in other states; it has not been seen for several years in New South Wales, but could still be present there (DS Teakle, University of Queensland, Australia, personal communication, 1996).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BangladeshPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
CambodiaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
ChinaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-AnhuiPresentEPPO, 2014
-FujianPresentEPPO, 2014
-GansuPresentEPPO, 2014
-GuangdongPresentEPPO, 2014
-HebeiPresentEPPO, 2014
-HenanPresentEPPO, 2014
-JiangsuPresentEPPO, 2014
-JiangxiPresentJiang et al., 2008
-Nei MengguPresentEPPO, 2014
-ShaanxiPresentEPPO, 2014
-ShandongPresentEPPO, 2014; Tang et al., 2016
-ShanxiPresentEPPO, 2014
-SichuanPresentEPPO, 2014
-XinjiangPresentEPPO, 2014
-YunnanPresentWang et al., 2010
-ZhejiangPresentEPPO, 2014
IndiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentGopal et al., 1991
-BiharPresentRao et al., 2004
-GujaratPresentRao et al., 2004
-HaryanaPresentRao et al., 2003
-KarnatakaPresentSrinivasachary, et al., 2002
-MaharashtraPresentRao et al., 2003
-Tamil NaduPresentSingh, 1976
-Uttar PradeshPresentRao et al., 2004
-UttarakhandPresentSingh et al., 2002
IndonesiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Irian JayaPresentEPPO, 2014
-JavaPresentEPPO, 2014
-SulawesiPresentWakman et al., 2001
IranPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
IsraelPresentEPPO, 2014
JapanPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
LaosPresentEPPO, 2014
MalaysiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentEPPO, 2014
MyanmarPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
NepalPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
PakistanPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
PhilippinesPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Sri LankaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
TaiwanPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
ThailandPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
TurkeyPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
VietnamPresentEPPO, 2014


AngolaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
CameroonPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Cape VerdePresentISSCT, 1989
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
EgyptPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
EthiopiaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
GhanaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
KenyaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
MadagascarPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
MalawiPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
RéunionPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Sierra LeonePresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
South AfricaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
TanzaniaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
UgandaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
ZambiaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
ZimbabwePresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
USAPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
-FloridaPresentComstock et al., 2000; Baker et al., 2010; Harmon et al., 2015
-FloridaPresentComstock et al., 2000; Baker et al., 2010; Harmon et al., 2015
-HawaiiPresentEPPO, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentEPPO, 2014
BarbadosPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
BelizePresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Costa RicaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
CubaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
El SalvadorPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
GuadeloupePresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
GuatemalaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
HaitiPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
HondurasPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
JamaicaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
MartiniquePresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
NicaraguaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
PanamaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentEPPO, 2014
Trinidad and TobagoPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
United States Virgin IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
BoliviaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
BrazilPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
-ParanaPresentBarboza et al., 2007
-Sao PauloPresentGonçalves et al., 2007
ColombiaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
EcuadorPresentISSCT, 1989
French GuianaPresentCPPC; EPPO, 2014
ParaguayPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
PeruPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
SurinamePresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
UruguayPresentISSCT, 1989
VenezuelaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014


BulgariaAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicPresentPokorny and Porubova, 2000; EPPO, 2014
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentEPPO, 2014
GermanyPresentFuchs et al., 1990; Huth, 1994
GreecePresentPanagiotou and Panayotou, 1981
HungaryPresentKovacs et al., 1994; EPPO, 2014
ItalyPresentEPPO, 2014
PolandPresentTrzmiel, 2009
PortugalRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-MadeiraPresentEPPO, 2014
RomaniaPresentEPPO, 2014
SerbiaPresentEPPO, 2014
SpainPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014


AustraliaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-New South WalesPresentEPPO, 2014
-QueenslandPresentEPPO, 2014
FijiPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentISSCT, 1989; EPPO, 2014

Risk of Introduction


Risk Criteria Category

Economic Importance Moderate
Distribution Worldwide
Seedborne Incidence Low
Seed Transmitted Yes
Seed Treatment None

Overall Risk Low

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page Cross-inoculation tests show that SCMV usually infects only various members of the Poaceae, although the Sabi strain can cause a latent infection of Phaseolus vulgaris (Teakle and Grylls, 1973). Useful test plants include some lines of Sorghum bicolor and Zea mays. However, some plants shown to be susceptible in glasshouse tests are rarely, if ever, infected in nature.

In Queensland, Australia, Brachiaria piligera is the only known natural host of the sugarcane-infecting strain SC, apart from sugarcane itself (Srisink et al., 1993). In contrast, the Sabi grass strain (which doesn't infect sugarcane) commonly infects Sabi grass (Urochloa mosambicensis) and sometimes wild sorghum (Sorghum verticilliflorum) (Srisink et al., 1993), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) (Karan et al., 1992), Dinebra retroflexa and Eragrostis cilianensis (Persley and Greber, 1977). Similarly, the Queensland blue couch grass strain (which also doesn't infect sugarcane, but does infect maize) has a number of natural grass hosts apart from the perennial host Digitaria didactyla after which it is named (Teakle and Grylls, 1973; Persley and Greber, 1977). The SCMV strain formerly known as maize dwarf mosaic strain B infects maize and may infect other wild Poaceae.

Thus, in Australia and possibly other countries, sugarcane is the primary host of most sugarcane-infecting strains. Other crop and wild species of the Poaceae are known or suspected secondary hosts.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page SCMV causes systemic infection of the sugarcane plant: the whole plant, including roots, contains virus. However, the symptoms (mosaic and/or necrosis) are observed on the leaves and sometimes the stems. Sometimes the whole plant is stunted.

In Saccharum spp., Sorghum bicolor, Zea mays and various grasses, systemic mosaic symptoms may be produced. The classical symptoms are contrasting shades of green on a background of paler green to yellow chlorotic areas. Sometimes yellow stripes and/or necrosis occur. The particular symptoms depend on the virus strain, the host cultivar and the environmental conditions, particularly temperature.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / abnormal colours
Leaves / abnormal forms
Leaves / abnormal patterns
Leaves / necrotic areas
Stems / discoloration of bark
Stems / stunting or rosetting
Whole plant / dwarfing

Biology and Ecology

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SCMV is transmitted by aphid vectors in the non-persistent manner. Aphid species involved in natural spread in Australia may be Rhopalosiphum maidis, Aphis gossypii and Myzus persicae (Noone et al., 1994); R. maidis and Hysteroneura setariae are involved in Louisiana, USA (Abbott, 1961); and R. maidis and R. padi are involved in South Africa (Anon., 1986). In Australia, Melanaphis sacchari, the sugarcane aphid, and H. setariae, a grass aphid, were non-vectors, whereas A. gossypii and M. persicae, which have dicotyledonous hosts, were able to transmit SCMV. Sugarcane is more susceptible to infection if in an early stage of growth (Srisink et al., 1994).

Numbers of each aphid species vary according to the season: in Louisiana, SCMV is spread by R. maidis in winter and early spring, but in all seasons by H. setariae (Abbott, 1961). In South Africa, SCMV is transmitted to young crops in summer by R. maidis and R. padi (Anon., 1986). In Japan, seasonal SCMV infection peaks were related to the peak vector populations (Setokuchi and Muta, 1993).

The rate of mosaic spread in a field of sugarcane depends on many factors (Abbott, 1961), including: the resistance of the sugarcane variety to the disease; the strain of the virus present; the number and distribution of infection foci; numbers, kinds and activity of aphid vectors present; and weather and other environmental conditions influencing the susceptibility of the plants or activity of the aphid vectors.

Transmission of SCMV in vegetative planting material is an additional important method of spreading the virus. Mature sugarcane plants with mild symptoms may be used as planting material, and thus the virus may be distributed widely (Srisink et al., 1993).

Tolerant cultivars of sugarcane sometimes lose mosaic symptoms as the plants mature; the virus may be carried latently or may even be lost completely. When breeding for resistance in Brazil, recovery from symptoms in seedlings was 27% for plant cane and 39% for the first ratoon (Matsuoka et al., 1985). In Puerto Rico, canes supposedly recovering from infection with either SCMV-A or B were often able to be reinfected by the same virus strain (Liu, 1972).

With maize, crops are grown from seed. Since there is little seed transmission of SCMV, seedlings emerge healthy. Aphids introduce SCMV or other potyviruses from older infected crops of maize or other hosts. Often perennial grass hosts of SCMV maintain the virus over periods of cold or drought. Grass hosts thought to overwinter the virus include Tripsacum dactyloides for SCMV-MB in the USA (Seifers et al., 1993) and Digitaria didactyla for SCMV-BC in Australia (Teakle and Grylls, 1973).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Vector transmission

SCMV is transmitted by aphid vectors in the non-persistent manner. Aphids introduce SCMV or other potyviruses from older infected crops of maize or other hosts. 

Seedborne Aspects

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SCMV has not been reported in sugarcane seed or to be transported by sugarcane seed. However, seed cane (stalk pieces or setts), used to propagate sugarcane vegetatively, commonly transmits SCMV and other viruses from one crop to the next.

With maize, SCMV-MB (Maize dwarf mosaic virus strain B) has been detected in the pericarp, but rarely in the endosperm or embryo of seeds at 21 days after pollination. In mature seeds, it was occasionally detected in the pericarp and endosperm, but not in the embryo (Mikel et al., 1984).

The pattern of SCMV prevalence in maize in France in 2007 led Marie-Jeanne et al. (2011) to suggest that SCMV may be seedborne in maize. Li et al. (2007) report that SCMV can enter maize seeds through infected pollen as well as from an infected female plant.

Effect on Seed Quality

In Pakistan, sugarcane seed cane (stalk pieces or setts) free from infection with an SCMV-like virus gave 5-11% more germination and 1.34 more tillers per plant than infected setts (Ahmad et al., 1991).

Seed Transmission

There have been no reports of seed transmission of SCMV in sugarcane and most other hosts. However, a low level of seed transmission of isolates resembling SCMV-A was reported in maize (Baudin, 1977; Fuchs et al., 1990). Larger maize seeds are more likely to transmit the virus than smaller seeds (Wang and Zhou, 2011). In addition, the majority of infected seedlings are derived from seeds from the middle or mid-base regions of ears. SCMV was also transmitted to seedlings grown in sterilized soil from infected seeds harvested from plants inoculated with MDMV strains A and B (Mikel et al., 1984).

Seed Treatments

The effects of sorghum hybrids and imidacloprid seed treatment on infestations by the vectors Rhopalosiphum maidis and Schizaphis graminum, and on the spread of MDMV-B [SCMV] have been evaluated in Kansas, USA. Imidacloprid controlled R. maidis for 3-4 weeks but not for 7 weeks after planting and reduced the spread of SCMV in a S. graminum-susceptible hybrid (Northrup King S9750) in one year but not in another. Differences among hybrids in the incidence of SCMV did not appear to be related to the hybrids' reaction to S. graminum. However, one S. graminum-resistant hybrid (Dekalb DK-39Y) appeared to be highly resistant to natural infection by SCMV, even though it was susceptible when inoculated mechanically (Harvey et al., 1996).
Treatment of Sorghum bicolor seeds with acibenzolar-S-methyl, salicylic acid or P. fluorescens all induced systemic resistance in S. bicolor against SCMV isolates from sugarcane (Balamuralikrishnan et al., 2005).

Seed Health Tests

Serological test

ELISA successfully detected SCMV in seed parts (Mikel et al., 1984).


Top of page Introduction

In the past, SCMV has caused alarming losses in various sugarcane-growing regions, including Hawaii, Egypt, Natal (South Africa), Argentina, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Australia and the USA (Koike and Gillaspie, 1989). Epidemics have been followed by replacement of susceptible noble-type canes by hybrid canes with tolerance or, better still, resistance. The evolution of new strains of SCMV has required a continuing breeding programme to prevent heavy losses.

Losses caused by SCMV are mainly (1) a reduced yield of the crop, (2) the need to include mosaic resistance when breeding new cultivars, and (3) the slowing of the interchange of cultivars between countries because of quarantine concerns over the introduction of new strains of SCMV.

Crop Losses

Crop losses caused by SCMV depend on many factors, including the susceptibility of the cultivars to the prevailing strains of SCMV, the incidence of infection, the prevailing environmental conditions, the stage of growth when infection occurs, and interaction with other agents affecting the crop. Crop losses can vary from negligible to severe. Some recent instances of heavy losses in sugarcane crops due to mosaic outbreaks are as follows.

In the 1980s, losses on some farms in the Isis district of Queensland, Australia, were estimated to be about 50% (Jones, 1987). In some commercial plantings of cv. Q95 from an infected source, the infected plants had fewer tillers and were less vigorous than apparently healthy plants nearby (Ryan and Jones, 1986).

In Guatemala in 1974-1976, many stunted stools of mosaic-affected cv. Q83 were responsible for lack of uniformity in fields near Santa Lucia. The cane tonnage in these fields was seriously reduced (Fors, 1978).

Estimations of Potential Losses in Experiments


In Natal, South Africa, plots of sugarcane cv. NCo376 (highly susceptible) and N12 (moderately resistant) were established with either infected or healthy cane. The plots were harvested regularly and tested serologically for SCMV to the 6th ratoon. There was a decline in the number of shoots showing mosaic symptoms in both cultivars during the experiment. However, mean yield reductions were 22% for infected NCo376 and 16% for N12 compared with yields of initially healthy cane (Cronje et al., 1994).

In Brazil, plots in two locations were planted with 0, 25, 50 and 100% initial SCMV infection. Virus spread was noticeable for cv. CB46/47, but negligible for cv. IAC50/134. For CB46/47 yield losses between initially healthy and 25% infected plots were 27% and 19% in the two locations; with 100% infection, yield reduction was 71% in both areas. For IAC50/134 the only significant difference in yield was between 0 and 100% infection, an 18% reduction in diseased plots in both areas (Matsuoka and Costa, 1974).

In Java, Indonesia, field trials with 0 and 100% SCMV-infected seed cane gave sugar yield reductions of 9.3% for POJ3016 and 11.1% for POJ3067 associated with the disease (Kuntohartono and Legowo, 1970).

In Spain, when healthy sugarcane was planted between rows infected by SCMV, the cultivars CO62/175 and NA56/79 were sufficiently resistant for commercial production, but losses of 0.4-0.5 t/ha were found for every 1% infection between the 2nd and 4th cutting (Olalla-Mercade et al., 1984a).

In Pakistan, mosaic-free seed cane gave a significantly higher yield of cane (48.5 t/ha) than mosaic-infected seed cane (44.5 t/ha)(Ahmad et al., 1991).


In East Africa, 10 susceptible maize hybrids had yield losses of 18-46% when inoculated with SCMV in the seedling stage (Louie and Darrah, 1980).

In Germany, SCMV was more prevalent than MDMV, but had a similar effect on growth and yield of maize. Early infection reduced plant height by 25%, total weight by 38% and ear weight by 27% (Fuchs et al., 1990).

Disease Complexes

SCMV and related potyviruses may occur in disease complexes with other plant pathogens; either additive or synergistic effects may occur.

In Louisiana, USA, losses in sugarcane caused by sorghum mosaic virus (formerly called SCMV-H) and ratoon stunting disease (RSD, caused by the bacterium Clavibacter xyli) were additive in cv. CP67-412, but synergistic (greater than the sum of each disease separately) in CP65-357 (Koike, 1982). In Spain, RSD symptoms were associated with the presence of SCMV, and damage by RSD was greatest in fields with clear mosaic symptoms (Olalla-Mercade et al., 1984b).

In Thailand, inoculation of the downy mildew-susceptible maize cv. Guatemala with an SCMV-like virus increased susceptibility to Sclerospora sorghi only slightly, whereas with the resistant Suwan 1 maize cv., the virus increased susceptibility from 27-61% (Sutabutra et al., 1976).


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Sap or aphid inoculation to Saccharum spp., Sorghum bicolor cultivars Atlas and Rio and certain other lines, or Zea mays will result in mosaic or necrotic diseases. Electron microscope examination of sap extracts of infected plants will reveal typical potyvirus particles which will be decorated by SCMV-specific antisera.

Other serological tests which can be done with SCMV-specific antisera are precipitin tests which give flagellar-type reactions with intact concentrated virus preparations, immunodiffusion tests (Bond and Pirone, 1971), ELISA and electro-blot immunoassay. Monoclonal antibodies to the maize dwarf mosaic virus-B strain of SCMV have been produced (Hill et al., 1984).

The four potyviruses infecting the Poaceae can be distinguished by high-performance liquid chromatography of coat protein digests (Shukla et al., 1988).

The inclusion morphology of SCMV is distinctive, comprising pinwheels, scrolls and laminated aggregates (Subdivision III), whereas Johnsongrass mosaic, maize dwarf mosaic and sorghum mosaic viruses induce only pinwheels and scrolls (Subdivision I) (Lesemann et al., 1992).

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular diagnostic method is sensitive and specific (Smith and Van de Velde, 1994).

SCMV has been detected in maize seeds by ELISA, electron microscopy, biological assay and tissue culture (Li et al., 2004) . Several RT-PCR and IC-RT-PCR tests have been developed for the molecular diagnosis of SCMV (Rott et al., 2008).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page The younger expanding leaves should be inspected for mosaic symptoms. Because symptoms may be mild, sap extracts of younger expanded leaves should be inoculated to diagnostic hosts and, concurrently, tested serologically or by RNA probes (see Diagnostic Methods). Diagnostic tests can be specific to either SCMV or the potyvirus genus.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page SCMV generally resembles other potyviruses that infect the Poaceae (namely sorghum mosaic, Johnsongrass and maize dwarf mosaic viruses) in the symptoms induced, particle morphology and the presence in cells of cylindrical proteinaceous pinwheel inclusion bodies. However, these different viruses can be distinguished on the basis of symptoms in differential hosts, serological relationships and nucleic acid homology (Tosic et al., 1990; Shukla and Ward, 1994).

Prevention and Control

Top of page Control of SCMV

Attempts to eradicate SCMV by roguing infected plants have rarely been successful (Abbott, 1961; Koike and Gillaspie, 1989). Roguing by digging out or applying herbicides may be useful in maintaining mosaic-free seed plots of cane if the level of infection is lower than 5% (Koike and Gillaspie, 1989). The use of mosaic-free seed cane is an effective control measure where inoculum pressures are not intense. Thermotherapy of planting material can result in some plants that are free of SCMV (Mirza et al., 1986; Benda et al., 1989).

Mosaic in sugarcane has long been controlled by the development and use of resistant clones. Breeding programmes may be designed to produce resistant clones which can be tested against the prevalent virus strains (Koike and Gillaspie, 1989).

Control of Aphid Vectors

A close relationship exists between ants and aphid vectors of SCMV (Charpentier, 1963). Ants can carry the aphids from one sugarcane plant to another, from grass to cane and from cane to grass. Presumably, ants also decrease attacks on aphids by parasitoids and predators, which would otherwise exert better control.

Because aphids which transmit SCMV come from outside as well as inside the sugarcane crop, care should be given to reduce the build up of the vector species in the vicinity. Crops of maize and sorghum are good hosts of vectors such as R. maidis, and should not be grown near infected sugarcane crops. Altering the times of planting and harvesting so that they do not coincide with high aphid vector populations can reduce losses (Bailey and Fox, 1980).

The use of insecticides failed to prevent aphid vectors from spreading SCMV (Charpentier, 1956).


Top of page

Abbott EV, 1961. Mosaic. In: Martin JP, Abbott EV, Hughes CG, eds. Sugar-Cane Diseases of the World, Vol. 1. Amsterdam, Holland: Elsevier, 407-430.

Ahmad M; Ali CR; Fasihi SD, 1991. Effect of sugarcane mosaic virus on the yield and quality of cane. Pakistan Sugar Journal, 4(1):11-13

Angeles Achón M; Sobrepere M; Minguell R, 2003. Molecular and biological properties of a Sugarcane mosaic potyvirus isolate from Spain. Zeitschrift für Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pflanzenschutz, 110(4):324-331.

Anon, 1986. Research on mosaic at the experiment station. South African Sugar Journal, 70:9-11.

Bailey RA; Fox PH, 1980. The susceptibility of varieties of mosaic and the effect of planting date on mosaic incidence in South Africa. Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technology Association, 54:161-167.

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