Wheat Spindle Streak Mosaic Virus

Disease Symptoms

Wheat Spindle Streak Mosaic Virus

Wheat Spindle Streak Mosaic Virus

University of Kentucky Dept. Plant Pathology

Plants infected with Wheat spindle streak mosaic virus (WSSMV) do not generally follow a row pattern and in

Kentucky virus problems tend to be most severe in early fall-planted wheat.

Symptoms include the formation of short light green to yellow streaks running parallel with the veins in leaves, starting as early as plant green-up in the spring. Early in the spring, the streaks may have a nondescript appearance. However, with age some streaks will be pointed at one or both ends, hence the name spindle streak.

Severely diseased plants will be slow to grow during early plant development and may be stunted and thin throughout the season. Some varieties have a more severe reaction to WSSMV than is typical of susceptible varieties. This disease can be easily confused with Soilborne wheat mosaic virus.


Wheat spindle streak mosaic virus is transmitted to wheat in the fall, winter or early spring by a common soil fungus, Polymyxa graminis. Infected plants are usually uniform in the field because of the uniform distribution of the transmitting fungus. Disease is favored in wet soils, although excessive moisture is not required for severe disease to occur.

IPM Techniques

Once plants are infected in the fall, nothing can be done to moderate the effects of the disease the following spring. Fungicides will not control it. Warm weather will help diseased plants recover. The only way to control WSSMV is to plant resistant varieties and delay planting until mid October or later.

References and Additional Information

  • PPFS-AG SG-4 Wheat Spindle Streak Mosaic (WSSM) by Don Hershman and Paul Bachi
  • IPM-4 Kentucky IPM Manual for Small Grains
  • PPA-10c Kentucky Plan Disease Management Guide for Small Grains by D.E. Hershman and Paul Vincelli
  • Annual Kentucky Small Grain Variety Trials, Progress Report 355
  • Common Diseases of Small Grain Cereals. F. J. International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Londres 40, Apdo. Postal 6-641, Mexico, D.F., Mexico
  • Compendium of Wheat Diseases, M.V. Wiese, The American Phytopathological Society Press, 1987.
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