Biosecurity Implications of New Technology and Discovery in Plant Virus Research

Robin MacDiarmid, Brendan Rodoni, Ulrich Melcher, Francisco Ochoa-Corona, Marilyn Roossinck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Human activity is causing new encounters between viruses and plants. Anthropogenic interventions include changing land use, decreasing biodiversity, trade, the introduction of new plant and vector species to native landscapes, and changing atmospheric and climatic conditions. The discovery of thousands of new viruses, especially those associated with healthy-appearing native plants, is shifting the paradigm for their role within the ecosystem from foe to friend. The cost of new plant virus incursions can be high and result in the loss of trade and/or production for short or extended periods. We present and justify three recommendations for plant biosecurity to improve communication about plant viruses, assist with the identification of viruses and their impacts, and protect the high economic, social, environmental, and cultural value of our respective nations' unique flora: 1) As part of the burden of proof, countries and jurisdictions should identify what pests already exist in, and which pests pose a risk to, their native flora; 2) Plant virus sequences not associated with a recognized virus infection are designated as "uncultured virus" and tentatively named using the host plant species of greatest known prevalence, the word "virus," a general location identifier, and a serial number; and 3) Invest in basic research to determine the ecology of known and new viruses with existing and potential new plant hosts and vectors and develop host-virus pathogenicity prediction tools. These recommendations have implications for researchers, risk analysts, biosecurity authorities, and policy makers at both a national and an international level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1003337
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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