Kansas State University scientist Dallas Seifers has found a virus never before detected in wheat.
"We just found it in this year's growing season," says Seifers, who is a wheat researcher at the university's agricultural research center in Hays, Kansas.
Although the virus was found in multiple locations around the state last spring, including university fields and privately-owned land, there was no indication that it had a significant yield impact on the 2006 wheat crop, he says.
Once Seifers discovered the disease, he worked through several processes to rule out other known diseases before reaching the conclusion that this one was a new one.
The virus, which Seifers is calling triticum mosaic virus, seems to have affected cultivars that have been developed for their resistance to wheat streak mosaic, he says.
Visually, the virus's disease symptoms resemble several other viruses, including wheat streak mosaic.
There are still many unknowns about the disease, Seifers says, including what impact it might have on yields in coming years, how widespread it was in 2006 and what sort of weather conditions it favors.
"We're looking for answers to those questions and more," he says.
Many crop researchers spend their whole careers without discovering a disease, but this is Seifers' third find. He also discovered what is now called High Plains virus and Wheat Yellow Head virus.