Hibiscus Latent Fort Pierce Virus (HLFPV)

California Pest Rating for
Hibiscus Latent Fort Pierce Virus (HLFPV)
Pest Rating: B

Initiating Event:

On September 10, 2015, diseased Abutilon sp. (mallow) plants showing chlorotic leaf spots were collected from a nursery in Solano County and sent by Solano County Agricultural officials to the CDFA Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch for analysis.  Tongyan Tian, CDFA plant pathologist identified two plant viruses namely, Abutilon mosaic virus and Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus associated with symptomatic Abutilon leaves.  Abutilon mosaic virus is known to be present within the State, however there have been no earlier reports of HLFPV from California.  The risk of infestation of HLFPV in California is evaluated and a permanent rating is herein proposed.     

History & Status:

Background:   Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus was first reported from Florida, USA, and was named according to the location and host from which it was isolated (Allen et al., 2005).  This virus belongs to the genus Tobamovirus which, until the discovery of HLFPV was known to comprise of three sub-groups that correspond to viral genome sequence and host range and include viruses that infect solanaceous plants, brassicas, and cucurbits or legumes.  Malvaceous plants had not been known as hosts for any of the tombamoviruses until the isolation of HLFPV as a new species from landscape plantings of the malvaceous plant hibiscus (Hibiscus rosinensis) in Florida. Subsequently, a limited survey conducted in Florida revealed that HLFPV is widespread in hibiscus and related species in the State’s landscapes.  HLFPV was also detected in H. rosasinensis in New Mexico, Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia (Adkins et al., 2003, 2006; Allen et al., 2005; Yoshida et al., 2014).  The current detection of HLFPV in California marks the first detection of this viral pathogen in the State.

Hosts: Natural hosts are mainly limited to Hibiscus spp. in the Malvaceae family, and include, H. rosasinensis (hibiscus), H. syriacus (rose of Sharon), H. coccineus (scarlett rosemallow), H. moscheutos (common rosemallow), Malvaviscus arboreus (Turk’s cap), (Adkins et al., 2003, 2006; Allen et al., 2005).  The detection HLFPV in Abutilon sp. from California marks a first record of a new host.

Experimental, mechanically-inoculated hosts include species within the family Solanaceae (Nicotiana glutinosa, N. rustica, and Petunia x hybrid with symptoms; N. benthamiana, N. debneyi, N. excelsior, and N. occidentalis – symptomless), Gomphrena globosa (symptomless), Chenopodium quinoa and C. amaranticolor (with symptoms), and species of the family Malvaceae including, Abelmoschus esculentus (okra), Gossypium sp., (cotton), Hibiscus cannabinus (kenaf – symptomless), Malvaviscus arboreus (Turk’s cap), and Hibiscus spp. (Adkins, et al., 2003, 2006).

Symptoms: Symptoms of HLFPV infection of hibiscus leaves include diffuse cholorotic spots and rings and an overall chorotic mottle (Adkins, 2003).  However, symptoms alone are not reliable for diagnosing HLFPV infections as hibiscus may be co-infected with additional viruses that often complex symptom expression.  Therefore, different diagnostic tools are necessary for accurate identification of the pathogen in diseased plant tissue.

Damage Potential: Presently, there are no reports of economic losses caused by HLFPV. Infected, symptomatic plants may cause loss in market value and sale of nursery plants.  However, hibiscus plants may be co-infected with more than one additional virus which may result in greater loss in plant production and value than expected by HLFPV infections alone.

Transmission: HLFPV is easily transmitted in hibiscus by common horticultural practices including mechanical transmission through contaminated pruning tools; infected plant cuttings, and nursery stock (Kamenova & Adkins, 2004; Adkins et al., 2006).

Worldwide Distribution: Asia: Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, North America: USA (California, Florida, New Mexico) (Adkins et al., 2003, 2006; Allen et al., 2005; Yoshida et al., 2014).

Official Control: None reported.  Currently Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus is rated Q in California.

California Distribution: Solano County (nursery).

California Interceptions:  There are no records of Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus detected in incoming plant shipments to California.

The risk Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1)  Climate/Host Interaction: Evaluate if the pest would have suitable hosts and climate to establish in California. Score:

– Low (1) Not likely to establish in California; or likely to establish in very limited areas.
Medium (2) may be able to establish in a larger but limited part of California.
– High (3) likely to establish a widespread distribution in California.

Risk is Medium (2)Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus is likely to establish wherever hibiscus plants are grown mainly in warm and moist regions within California.   

2)  Known Pest Host Range: Evaluate the host range of the pest. Score:

Low (1) has a very limited host range.
– Medium (2) has a moderate host range.
– High (3) has a wide host range.

Risk is Low (1) Presently, the natural host range of Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus is mainly limited to Hibiscus spp. in the Malvaceae family.

3) Pest Dispersal Potential: Evaluate the natural and artificial dispersal potential of the pest. Score:

– Low (1) does not have high reproductive or dispersal potential.
– Medium (2) has either high reproductive or dispersal potential.
High (3) has both high reproduction and dispersal potential.

Risk is High (3) Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus, a tobamovirus, is readily transmitted mechanically through normal horticultural practices, particularly through contaminated pruning tools.  It has high reproduction within infected plants and is therefore,  also spread through the movement of infected plant cuttings, and nursery stock.

4) Economic Impact: Evaluate the economic impact of the pest to California using the criteria below. Score:

A.  The pest could lower crop yield.
B.  The pest could lower crop value (includes increasing crop production costs).
C.  The pest could trigger the loss of markets (includes quarantines).
D.  The pest could negatively change normal cultural practices.
E.  The pest can vector, or is vectored, by another pestiferous organism.
F.  The organism is injurious or poisonous to agriculturally important animals.
G.  The organism can interfere with the delivery or supply of water for agricultural uses.

– Low (1) causes 0 or 1 of these impacts.
Medium (2) causes 2 of these impacts.
– High (3) causes 3 or more of these impacts.

Risk is Medium (2) –The economic impact of  HLFPV  would particularly affect nursery productions where HLFPV-infected plants could lower crop value, result in reduction in sales, and increase in clean plant production costs.

5) Environmental Impact: Evaluate the environmental impact of the pest on California using the criteria below.

A.  The pest could have a significant environmental impact such as lowering biodiversity, disrupting natural communities, or changing ecosystem processes.
B.  The pest could directly affect threatened or endangered species.
C.  The pest could impact threatened or endangered species by disrupting critical habitats.
D.  The pest could trigger additional official or private treatment programs.
E.  The pest significantly impacts cultural practices, home/urban gardening or ornamental plantings.

Score the pest for Environmental Impact. Score:

– Low (1) causes none of the above to occur.
Medium (2) causes one of the above to occur.
– High (3) causes two or more of the above to occur.

Risk is Medium (2) – The pathogen could significantly impact plantings of hibiscus in home/urban environments.

Consequences of Introduction to California for Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus

Add up the total score and include it here. (Score)

-Low = 5-8 points
Medium = 9-12 points
-High = 13-15 points

Total points obtained on evaluation of consequences of introduction of HLFPV to California = Medium (10).

6)  Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information: Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records identified by a taxonomic expert and supported by voucher specimens deposited in natural history collections should be considered. Pest incursions that have been eradicated, are under eradication, or have been delimited with no further detections should not be included. (Score)

-Not established (0) Pest never detected in California, or known only from incursions.
Low (-1) Pest has a localized distribution in California, or is established in one suitable climate/host area (region).
-Medium (-2) Pest is widespread in California but not fully established in the endangered area, or pest established in two contiguous suitable climate/host areas.
-High (-3) Pest has fully established in the endangered area, or pest is reported in more than two contiguous or non-contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

Evaluation is Low (-1). Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus was detected in a nursery in Solano County, California.   

Final Score:

7) The final score is the consequences of introduction score minus the post entry distribution and survey information score: (Score)

Final Score:  Score of Consequences of Introduction – Score of Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information = 9  


The distribution of Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus within California is not fully known. Malvaceous host plants grown in private and commercial environments may be infected with a complex of viruses including HLFPV.  The proposed rating may change as more is learned about the presence and distribution of this virus in California.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Based on the evidence provided above the proposed rating for Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus is B.


Adkins, S., I. Kamenova, D. Achor, and D. J. Lewandowski.  2003.  Biological and molecular characterization of a novel tobamovirus with a unique host range.  Plant Disease 87: 1190-1196.

Adkins, S. I. Kamenova, P. Chiemsombat, C. A. Baker, and D. J. Lewandowski.  2006.  Tobamoviruses from hibiscus in Florida and beyond.  Proc. XIth IS on Virus Diseases in Ornamental, Editor C. A. Chang, Acta Hort. 722 ISHS 2006.

Allen, J. E., I. Kamenova, S. Adkins, and S. F. Hanson.  2005.  First report of Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus in New Mexico.  Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2005-0105-01-HN. http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/php/brief/2005/hlfpv/.

Kamenova, I. and S. Adkins.  2004.  Transmission, in planta distribution, and management of Hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus, a novel tobamovirus isolated from Florida hibiscus.  Plant Disease 88:674-679.

Yoshida, T., Y. Kitazawa, K. Komatsu, Y. Neriya, K. Ishikawa, N. Fujita, M. Hashimoto, K. Maejima, Y., Yamaji, and S. Namba.  2014.  Complete nucleotide sequence and genome structure of a Japanese isolate of hibiscus latent Fort Pierce virus, a unique tobamovirus that contains an internal poly(A) region in its 3’ end.  Archives of Virology 159:3161-3165.  DOI 10.1007/s00705-014-2175-3.

Responsible Party:

John J. Chitambar, Primary Plant Pathologist/Nematologist, California Department of Food and Agriculture, 3294 Meadowview Road, Sacramento, CA 95832. Phone: 916-262-1110, plant.health[@]cdfa.ca.gov.

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Pest Rating: B

Posted by ls