Rusty mottle and Cherry twisted leaf are viral diseases that affect less than one percent of cherry trees, but if they are present in an orchard, the cherries from the diseased trees will be late to ripen and flavorless. Disease symptoms also include smaller cherries and sickly tree appearance. The smaller cherries are concerning, however, the rapid way these diseases spread should be the primary concern. These viruses can infect nearby trees and are difficult to control.
Rusty mottle and Cherry twisted leaf diseases come from the same Foveavirus family. At CPCNW, our research is focused on isolating which members of the rusty mottle and twisted leaf families are actually responsible for causing the disease. Dr. Dan Villamor worked with Dr. Ken Eastwell to isolate and eventually sequence the full genome of the isolates. With that information scientists will eventually be able to create more accurate and efficient ways to detect the viruses. These tests may eliminate some of the more time consuming woody indexing tests required now.