Symptom Severity and Viral Protein or RNA Accumulation in Lettuce affected by Big-Vein Disease

Carolina Araya1, Elizabeth Peña1, Erika Salazar1, Lisset Román1, Claudia Medina1, Roxana Mora1, Agustín Aljaro1, and Inés-Marlene Rosales1*

Big-vein disease (BVD) is a widespread and economically damaging disease in lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Typical symptoms are chlorotic clearing around leaf veins, leaf deformations, and impaired head development. In this research, we studied the relationship between symptom intensity and protein and viral RNA accumulation in infected plants. Naturally infected lettuce plants, from the field or greenhouse, were classified according to their symptomatology mild, moderate, severe, and symptomless. Coat protein accumulation was evaluated by a double antibody sandwich/enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (DAS-ELISA), and RNA levels were studied by semi-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and quantitative RT-PCR. Virus coat protein accumulation did not differ for the two viruses associated with this disease among lettuce plants showing different symptom severity. Similarly, abundance of Mirafiori lettuce big-vein virus (MLBVV)-RNA3 or Lettuce big-vein associated virus (LBVaV)-RNA-2 were not different (P > 0.05) for diverse big vein disease severity rating scales. This suggests that symptom severity expressed by big-vein diseased lettuce plants did not necessarily reflect the accumulation of viruses associated with this disease in the host. Therefore, lettuce plants showing mild symptoms of BVD do not necessarily present lower virus levels than plants showing more severe symptomatology.

Keywords: Lettuce big-vein disease, symptom expression, Ophiovirus, Varicosavirus, Lactuca sativa.
1Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias INIA, Casilla 439-3, Santiago, Chile. *Corresponding author (mrosales@inia.cl).