Freesia Sneak Virus (FreSV)

California Pest Rating forFreesia Sneak Virus
Freesia Sneak Virus
Pest Rating: B

Initiating Event:


History & Status:

BackgroundFreesia sneak virus (FreSV) is associated with freesia leaf necrosis disease. The disease has been reported in Europe since the 1970s.  Although FreSV has been most closely correlated with freesia leaf necrosis symptoms in freesia plants, other species within the same genus may also be correlated (e.g., Freesia mosaic virus FreMV) and, therefore, the causal agent(s) is/are still being determined (Bouwen, 1994; Meekes & Verbeek, 2011).

Freesia sneak virus is a plant virus belonging to the genus Ophiovirus in the family Ophioviridae.  Freesia sneak virus is soil-borne and vectored by the soil-borne fungus, Olpidium brassicae. Initially, the virus was provisionally called Freesia Ophiovirus, but is now known as Freesia sneak virus (Vaira et al., 2006).

In the USA, Freesia sneak virus was first reported from infected Freesia spp. in Virginia in 2009 (Vaira et al., 2009).  The pathogen was detected in California, in symptomatic freesia plant samples collected during April 2014, from a nursery in San Luis Obispo County. The pathogen was identified by Tongyan Tian, CDFA plant pathologist.  Subsequently, all infected plant material was destroyed.

Hosts: Freesia spp. (Iradaceae) and Lachenalia spp. (Hyacinthaceae) (Jeong, et al., 2014; Meekes & Verbeek, 2011; Vaira et al., 2007, 2009).  Both hosts are monocots native to South Africa.

Symptoms: Symptoms may be affected by environmental conditions (Vaira et al., 2006).

Freesia leaf necrosis disease mainly affects the leaves exhibiting chlorotic spots and stripes that start at the leaf tip and usually spread over the entire leaf.  Later these chlorotic spots turn grey-brown and become necrotic.  Mildly infected plants show light chlorotic symptoms only on the lower leaves.  Flowers and corms do not seem to be affected by the disease (Van Dorst, 1973; Bouwen, 1994; Meekes & Verbeek, 2011).

Damage Potential: In detection surveys conducted in Korea, Freesia sneak virus was detected from 71.7% of 138 plants tested (Jeong et al., 2014).  Infection rates of 10-25% percent of plants shipped to the USA have been reported (Hansen, 2008; Vaira et al., 2009).  In California, nursery and private productions of freesia and lachenalia plants, in particular, may be impacted if infected with Freesia sneak virus.

Transmission: in nature, Freesia sneak virus is vectored by the soil-borne fungus, Olpidium brassicae, and not by mechanical transmission.  Resting spores of O. brassicae are very persistent and can survive for more than twenty years in soil without losing the capacity to transmit the disease (Meekes & Verbeek, 2011).   Therefore, spread of FreSV is also through movement of contaminated soils and plants.

Worldwide Distribution:  Asia: Korea; Africa: South Africa; Europe: Northern Europe including the Netherlands, Italy; North America: USA (Virginia) (Jeong et al., 2014; Meekes & Verbeek, 2011; Vaira, et al., 2007, 2009).

Official Control: None reported.

California Distribution: San Luis Obispo (nursery).

California Interceptions: There have not been any interceptions of Freesia sneak virus-infected plants entering California.

The risk Freesia sneak 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) Freesia sneak virus is likely to establish wherever freesia and lachenalia plants are grown in limited areas of California. Freesia has limited production in state and is naturalized mostly in the north coast region, as well as cultivated in nursery and private production sites – including home gardens.    Lachenalia is grown mainly in nurseries and in private productions as a hobbyist’s plant.   

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) – Freesia sneak virus is limited to Freesia spp. (Iradaceae) and Lachnenalia spp. (Hyacinthaceae).

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 Medium (2) Freesia sneak virus has high reproductive potential.  In nature, its spread to non-infected plants is dependent on the presence of the soil-borne fungus vector, Olpidium brassicae.  Resting spores of O. brassicae are very persistent and can survive for more than twenty years in soil without losing their viability. Therefore, FreSV is also spread through movement of contaminated soils and plants.  The pathogen is not mechanically transmitted.

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 High (3) – Incidents of Freesia sneak virus infections could lower plant value resulting in loss in market sales of nursery-grown freesia and lachenalia plants.  The pathogen is vectored by the soil fungus, Olpidium brassicae.    

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 Low (1) – Plant infections caused by Freesia sneak virus are likely to have a minimal impact on the overall environment but may significantly impact home gardening and ornamental plantings.

Consequences of Introduction to California for Freesia sneak 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 Freesia sneak virus to California = 9.

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 not established.  Freesia sneak virus-infected freesia plants have only been detected in a contained nursery environment in California.  Those plants were subsequently destroyed and therefore, the pathogen is not considered established in the State.

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



Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Based on the evidence provided above the proposed rating for Freesia sneak virus is B.


Bouwen, I.  1994.  Freesia leaf necrosis: some of its mysteries revealed.  Virus Diseases of Ornamental Plants VIII, Acta Horticulturae 377: 311-318.

Hansen, M. A.   2008.  Freesia sneak virus – a new find for the United States.  Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech Plant Disease Clinic:

Jeong, M. I., Y. J. Choi, J. H. Joa, K. S. Choi, and B. N. Chung.  2014.  First report of Freesia sneak virus in commercial Freesia hybrida cultivars in Korea.  Plant Disease 95:162.

Meekes, E. T. M., and M. Verbeek.  2011.  New insights in Freesia leaf necrosis disease.  Proceedings XIIth IS on Virus Diseases of Ornamental Plants; Editors A. F. L. M. Derks et al.  Acta Horticulturae  901, ISHA 2011.

Vaira, A. M., V. Lisa, A. Costantini, V. Masenga, S. Rapetti, and R. G. Milne.  2006.  Ophioviruses infecting ornamentals and a probable new species associated with a severe disease in Freesia.  Proceeding XIth IS on Virus Diseases in Ornamentals, Ed. C. A. Chang.  Acta Horticulturae 722, ISHA 2006.

Vaira, A. M., R. Kleynhans, and J. Hammond.  2007.  First report of Freesia sneak virus infecting Lachenalia cultivars in South Africa.  Plant Disease 91:770.

Vaira, A. M. , M. A. Hansen, C. Murphy, M. D. Reinsel, and J. Hammond.  2009.  First report of Freesia sneak virus in Freesia sp. in Virginia.  Plant disease, 93:965.

Van Dorst, H. J. M.  1973. Two new disorders in freesias.  Netherland Journal of Plant Pathology 79:130-137.

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,[@]

Comment Format:

♦  Comments should refer to the appropriate California Pest Rating Proposal Form subsection(s) being commented on, as shown below.

Example Comment: 

Consequences of Introduction:  1. Climate/Host Interaction: [Your comment that relates to “Climate/Host Interaction” here.]

♦  Posted comments will not be able to be viewed immediately.

♦  Comments may not be posted if they:

Contain inappropriate language which is not germane to the pest rating proposal;

Contains defamatory, false, inaccurate, abusive, obscene, pornographic, sexually oriented, threatening, racially offensive, discriminatory or illegal material;

Violates agency regulations prohibiting sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination;

Violates agency regulations prohibiting workplace violence, including threats.

♦  Comments may be edited prior to posting to ensure they are entirely germane.

♦  Posted comments shall be those which have been approved in content and posted to the website to be viewed, not just submitted.

Pest Rating: B

Posted by ls