Study raises concerns about prevalent orchid viruses

Orchid viruses are capable of causing flower deformities and death, which can severely impact the horticultural industry and wild orchid conservation.


In a new study, scientists demonstrated the evolution of the two most prevalent orchid viruses utilizing information representing their worldwide distribution.

The study revealed that significant worldwide exchange of cultivated orchids has successfully “homogenized” the genetic diversity of the viruses. As such, the two infections have shown a couple of genetic differences since their first rise, across countries and host plants.

The findings are concerning because these patterns are suggestive of the rapid and regular international movement of orchids and their related pathogens.

The rapid global dispersal of viruses not only has the potential to impact the lucrative orchid horticultural industry, but it also threatens orchid species in the wild.

Lead author Deborah J. Fogell, of the University of Kent, in the UK, said, “Global trade has opened the doors to regular and rapid movements of both plants and their pathogens. Orchids are a highly threatened family, and without better disease screening practice and phytosanitary regulation, we may be placing wild populations at risk for unintentional spillover.”

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