Plants are also infected by viruses


The Corona Virus is having a serious impact on all our lives. But viruses are not only a serious threat for humans, they can also infect plants. Insects, such as aphids which feed on plants can transmit viruses from one plant to another including many important crops that farmers grow for us to eat. Although not harmful to people, these viruses can significantly reduce crop yields. For instance, potato virus Y, one of the most important plant viruses affecting potato production can cause yield reductions of up to 50% and even 80% on susceptible cultivars [1].

Unlike human viruses, there are no vaccines or antiviral medicines to cure diseases caused by plant viruses. Nevertheless, there are efficient measures that can significantly reduce or prevent these damaging plant diseases. Just like the challenge of controlling important human diseases such as Malaria, farmers can use insecticides to reduce transmission of viral plant diseases by controlling insect vectors. They can also reduce the threat of viruses infecting crops by sowing certified virus-free seeds and growing varieties which are less susceptible to attack. Strict phytosanitary rules and controls are also used to reduce the threat of viruses being transmitted by trade in plant products.

If you would like to know more, contact Paul Leonard at or call +32-475-738-943.

[1] INRA, 2017