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Researchers gain ground in rose rosette battle

Posted May 23, 2019

rose rosette disease
Rose rosette symptoms include witches' brooms, excessive thorniness, enlarged canes, and malformed leaves and flowers.

A comprehensive national effort is gaining ground in the battle against rose rosette, a plant disease that has claimed an estimated $40 million to $50 million in rose industry losses alongside thousands of jobs, researchers said.

The team has tracked the disease across the U.S., developed new diagnostic tools and expedited breeding with hundreds of new molecular markers.

In Texas, rose rosette is most highly concentrated in a few northern counties around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Meanwhile, states across the Midwest from Kansas to Maryland comprise the densest affected U.S. regions.

Rose rosette is a highly-contagious rose disease that seriously affects plant health, reduces blooms and ultimately causes death. The Fort Worth Botanic Garden was hard hit by the disease in 2015. Infected roses throughout the Oval Rose Garden, Republic of Texas Rose Garden and Lower Rose Garden were removed and replaced. Irrigation improvements were made, and the Rose Ramp was replanted with seasonal plantings that provide a spectacular show.

Researchers continue to test an array of tools they’ve developed since 2014 to verify reported rose rosette. The group’s plan is to produce a serological test, which functions like a home pregnancy test for rose rosette in the field.

Insect experts seek to control populations of the microscopic mite that is currently known as the sole distributor of the virus among roses. Still, any mite control measures will need to be bolstered by naturally-resistant plants. With a 2020 grant renewal, teams will screen commercial roses for resistance.

Learn more about rose rosette disease.

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