First reports of Beet curly top virus, Citrus yellow vein-associated virus, and Hop latent viroid in industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) in Washington State

In 2021 and 2022, virus-like symptoms were observed in several cultivars of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) in two fields in central Washington, USA. Affected plants had a range of symptoms at different developmental stages, with young plants having severe stunting with shortened internodes and reduced flower mass. Young leaves of infected plants also showed light green to total yellowing, and twirling with twisting margins (Fig. S1). Infections of older plants caused less foliar symptoms that consisted of mosaic, mottling, and mild chlorosis on a few branches with tacoing of older leaves. To assess if symptomatic hemp plants were infected with Beet curly top virus (BCTV) as reported earlier (Giladi et al., 2020; Chiginsky et al., 2021), symptomatic leaves were collected from 38 plants, and the extracted total nucleic acids tested by PCR to amplify a 496-base pair (bp) fragment specific to BCTV coat protein (CP) using primers BCTV2-F 5′-GTGGATCAATTTCCAG-ACAATTATC-3′ and BCTV2-R 5′-CCCATAAGAGCCATATCA-AACTTC-3′ (Strausbaugh et al. 2008). BCTV was found in 37 of the 38 plants. To further assess the virome of symptomatic hemp plants, total RNA was extracted from symptomatic leaves of four plants using Spectrum total RNA isolation kits (Sigma-Aldrich, St. Louis, MO) and subjected to high-throughput sequencing on an Illumina Novaseq platform in paired-end mode (University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT). The raw reads (33 to 40 million per sample) were trimmed based on quality and ambiguity and resulting paired-end reads of ≈142 bp length were assembled de novo into a pool of contigs (CLC Genomics Workbench 21, Qiagen Inc.). Virus sequences were identified through BLASTn analysis in GenBank ( One contig of 2,929 nucleotides (nt) obtained from one sample (accession no. OQ068391) showed 99.3% identity with BCTV-Wor strain reported from sugar beet in Idaho (accession no. KX867055 Strausbaugh et al., 2017). Another contig of 1,715 nt from a second sample (accession no. OQ068392) shared 97.3% identity with BCTV-CO strain (accession no. KX867022). Two contig sequences of 2,876 nt (accession no. OQ068388) and 1,399 nt (accession no. OQ068389) obtained from the 3rd and 4th samples showed 97.2% and 98.3% identity, respectively, with Citrus yellow vein-associated virus (CYVaV, accession no. MT893740.1) reported in industrial hemp from Colorado (Chiginsky et al., 2021). Contigs of 256 nt sequence (accession no. OQ068390) obtained from the 3rd and 4th samples also showed 99-100% identity with Hop Latent viroid (HLVd) sequences in GenBank (accessions OK143457 and X07397). These results indicated single infections of BCTV strains and co-infection of CYVaV and HLVd in individual plants. To confirm theagents, symptomatic leaves were collected from 28 randomly selected hemp plants and tested by PCR/RT-PCR using primers specific to BCTV (Strausbaugh et al., 2008), CYVaV (Kwon et al., 2021) and HLVd (Matoušek et al., 2001). Amplicons specific to BCTV (496 bp), CYVaV (658 bp) and HLVd (256 bp) were detected in 28, 25, and 2 samples, respectively. BCTV CP sequences obtained by Sanger sequencing from seven samples showed 100% sequence identity with BCTV-CO and BCTV-Wor strains in six and one samples, respectively. Similarly, sequences of CYVaV- and HLVd-specific amplicons showed 100% identity with corresponding sequences in GenBank. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of two strains of BCTV (BCTV-CO and BCTV-Wor), CYVaV, and HLVd infecting industrial hemp in Washington state.


Causal Agent; Crop Type; Field crops; Pathogen detection; Subject Areas; Viruses and viroids; other.

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