Unravelling the Little Cherry disease complex at European scale to improve transnational diagnostics and management of the disease

Project Details


Main research question/goal
This research project, part of the transnational EUPHRESCO network, further develops the ILVO expertise on the Little Cherry Disease. The project aims to share the know-how surrounding distribution, epidemiology and diagnostics with a large group of international stakeholders. In concrete terms, the project consortium is working on better and more standardized detection of the disease, taking into account the large variability of the two viruses involved that cause the disease. We map how intensively the disease occurs regionally in Europe (epidemiology) and which factors play a role in the distribution (which vectors? Which reservoir plants, other than Prunus species in the fruit and floriculture sector? Which cultivation practices, etc.). Little Cherry Virus or LChV can cause economic and ecological damage. For example, contaminated sweet and sour cherry cherries produce much less and extremely small fruits. 

Research approach
ILVO collected a series of European LChV isolates via an extensive existing scientific network, and by extension also some non-EU isolates that are subject to EU quarantine legislation. Research on this enhanced the knowledge about the spread, the complexity, and variability of the disease. At the same time, it broadens the choice and efficiency of the existing detection methods, for example by exchanging experience inside and outside the research consortium, but also through a comparative test between laboratories. This will help to standardize the detection method, together with the knowledge about the variability of both viruses (LChV-1 and LChV-2). 

This completed project was able to greatly increase the number of available full sequences of both LChV 1 and LChV 2 genomes through this project. After analysis, 45 LChV1 and 28 LChV2 sequences with (almost) whole genome were obtained and partial genome sequences were obtained from other samples. The co-infection with other viruses were also summarized. This allowed to gain better insight in the genome variability of the viruses as such, and offers the opportunity to evaluate the current diagnostic weaknesses. Based on this evaluation, improved primer sets could be developed. In addtiion, the epidemiological knowledge was greatly improved, allowing to assist in managment strategie, further complete PRA studies, update distribution maps and finally, it assists in EU-wide sensitization campaign about the disease.

Funding provider(s)
FOD Volksgezondheid, Veiligheid van de voedselketen en Leefmilieu
Effective start/end date1/05/1730/04/19