Viruses that Infect Domesticated Potatoes

This is an overview of viruses that infect the potato (Solanum tuberosum). This article is targeted at the advanced amateur. Most articles about potato viruses focus on just a few of the most common ones. This article lists every virus that I am aware of that is known to infect potato naturally, without human intervention.

Viruses in Collections

Potato collectors should have increased awareness of potato viruses, beyond those that are common in the commercial crop.  Collectors have unique exposure to viruses for a variety of reasons.  Many collectors grow varieties that have been maintained as clones for decades without any virus cleanup.  These varieties may carry viruses that have been extirpated in the commercial crop.  Viruses like Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid, Potato Aucuba Virus, and Potato Latent Virus have been detected in private collections in recent years even though they have been out of the commercial crop for a long time.  Collections also often contain varieties that escaped quarantine.  I’m not casting aspersions here, but anyone who has spent much time in social media knows that people routinely carry potatoes across borders.  Once they are here and have changed hands, there is no way for you to know if they came in through quarantine or in somebody’s backpack.  There must literally be hundreds of such varieties floating around out there.  And it isn’t just potatoes – some of these viruses move in tomatoes and other Solanums, the Andean root and tuber crops, or even further afield, from crops like beets and beans.  Some move in and out of weeds.

I suspect that there are a lot more exotic viruses floating around in collections than anyone realizes.  Collections are rarely tested.  Even when they are tested, they are mostly tested for things that are common, because testing is expensive.  Exotic viruses probably don’t become a problem because private collections are downstream from commercial cultivation and the commercial crop is grown almost entirely from certified seed.  That doesn’t mean that system is fool-proof though, so it is a good idea to test for and eradicate exotic viruses whenever possible.

Eliminating Viruses Through True Seed

It is commonly believed that growing plants from true seed (TPS) is a guaranteed way to eliminate viruses.  That’s not really true.  It is largely true if your exposure is limited to viruses that are common in North America.  The really common potato viruses – Potato Leafroll Virus, Potato Mop Top Virus, Potato Virus A, M, S, X, and Y, and Tobacco Rattle Virus – are not transmitted through true seed.  Exotic viruses may be.  The most common example is Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid, which spreads easily through true seed.

Heat treatment of TPS reduces the odds of transmission of baterial and fungal pathogens, but does little to eliminate viruses if they are carried in the seed.  The incidence of some viruses can be reduced by holding seeds at high temperatures for long periods of time, but this is usually associated with a major reduction in germination.

Virus Commentaries

Commentaries about the viruses are my own and I am not a plant pathologist, so you certainly shouldn’t consider them authoritative.  I probably have done more testing of potatoes from private collections than most professionals though.  I have seen things that don’t always agree with the literature.

Virus Genus Endemic in North America Frequency in Potato (USA)
Seed Transmitted in Potato
Alfalfa Mosaic Virus (AMV) Alfamovirus Yes Uncommon Possibly
Andean Latent Virus (APLV) / Eggplant Mosaic Virus (EMV) Tymovirus Yes Never? Possibly
Andean Potato Mottle Virus (APMoV) Comovirus No Never No
Arracacha Virus B (AVB) Cheravirus Unknown Never? Yes
Beet Curly Top Virus (BCTV) Curtovirus Yes Rare No
Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) Cucumovirus Yes Rare Possibly
Eggplant Mottled Dwarf Virus (EMDV) Nucleorhabdovirus No Never No
Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV) Tospovirus Yes Rare Possibly
Potato Aucuba Mosaic Virus (PAMV) Potexvirus Yes Rare No
Potato Black Ringspot Virus (PBRSV) Nepovirus No Never No
Potato Latent Virus (PotLV) Carlavirus Yes Rare Probably not
Potato Leafroll Virus (PLRV) Polerovirus Yes Common No
Potato Necrosis Virus (PoNV) Alphanecrovirus No Never Unknown
Potato Mop Top Virus (PMTV) Pomovirus Yes Common No
Potato Rough Dwarf Virus (PRDV) Carlavirus No Never Unknown
Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid (PSTVd) Pospiviroid Yes Rare Yes
Potato Virus A (PVA) Potyvirus Yes Common No
Potato Virus H (PVH) Carlavirus No Never Unknown
Potato Virus M (PVM) Carlavirus Yes Uncommon No
Potato Virus P (PVP) Carlavirus No Never Unknown
Potato Virus S (PVS) Carlavirus Yes Common No
Potato Virus T (PVT) Tepovirus No Never Probably
Potato Virus U (PVU) Nepovirus No Never Unknown
Potato Virus V (PVV) Potyvirus No Never No
Potato Virus X (PVX) Potexvirus Yes Common No
Potato Virus Y (PVY) Potyvirus Yes Common No
Potato Yellow Blotch Virus (PYBV) Potyvirus No Never Unknown
Potato Yellow Dwarf Virus (PYDV) Nucleorhabdovirus Yes Rare No
Potato Yellow Mosaic Virus (PYMV) Begomovirus No Never Unknown
Potato Yellow Vein Virus (PYVV) Crinivirus No Never Unknown
Potato Yellowing Virus (PYV) Ilarvirus Unknown Unknown Yes
Solanum Apical Leaf Curling Virus (SALCV) Begomovirus No Never Unknown
Sowbane Mosaic Virus (SoMV) Sobemovirus Yes Rare Possibly
Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV) Tobravirus Yes Uncommon Probably not
Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) Tobamovirus Yes Common No
Tobacco Necrosis Virus (TNV) Necrovirus Yes Rare No
Tobacco Ringspot Virus (TRSV) Nepovirus Yes Rare Possibly
Tobacco Streak Virus (TSV) Ilarvirus Yes Rare Possibly
Tomato Leaf Curl New Dehli Virus (ToLCNDV) Begomovirus No Never Unknown
Tomato Mosaic Virus (TMoV) Tobamovirus Yes Rare No
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) Tospovirus Yes Uncommon Probably not
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) Begomovirus Yes Unknown No
Tomato Yellow Mosaic Virus (ToYMV) Begomovirus No Never Unknown
Tomato Yellow Vein Streak Virus (ToYVSV) / Potato Deforming Mosaic Virus (PDMV) Begomovirus No Never Unknown
Wild Potato Mosaic Virus (WPMV) Potyvirus No Never Probably not

Alfalfa Mosaic Virus

Not a common virus in potatoes from what I can tell.  It is one of those that turns up from time to time in well-traveled potatoes.  Black Irish and Peruanita both tested positive here for AMV.  A small amount of transmission though seed has been observed in some potato relatives, so it is possible that this virus could infect TPS.

Andean Potato Latent Virus

This virus is present in some heirloom ulluco varieties.  We test every known host here for APLV and have never seen it in a potato or in anything other than those ulluco varieties, so I don’t think it spreads easily, but it is possible that it could spread through TPS.  This is a very good reason not to grow the old ullucos or to keep them absolutely isolated from potatoes if you insist on it.

Andean Potato Mosaic Virus

Probably not present in the USA or at least very rare if so.

Arracacha Virus B

I have never seen this virus, but it is among those that worry me the most.  It infects several Andean tuber crops and is also capable of infecting potatoes.  It is somewhat common in oca in the Andes and the oca strain can infect potatoes and is known to spread through TPS.

Beet Curly Top Virus


Cucumber Mosaic Virus


Eggplant Mottled Dwarf Virus


Inpatiens Necrotic Spot Virus


Potato Aucuba Mosaic Virus


Potato Black Ringspot Virus


Potato Latent Virus


Potato Leafroll Virus


Potato Necrosis Virus


Potato Mop-top Virus


Potato Rough Dwarf Virus


Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid


Potato Virus A


Potato Virus H


Potato Virus M


Potato Virus P


Potato Virus S


Potato Virus T


Potato Virus U

Potato Virus V >

Potato Virus X


Potato Virus V


Potato Yellow Blotch Virus


Potato Yellow Dwarf Virus


Potato Yellow Mosaic Virus


Potato Yellow Vein Virus


Potato Yellowing Virus


Solanum Apical Leaf Curl Virus


Sowbane Mosaic Virus


Tobacco Mosaic Virus


Tobacco Rattle Virus


Tobacco Necrosis Virus


Tobacco Ringspot Virus


Tobacco Streak Virus


Tomato Leaf Curl New Dehli Virus


Tomato Mosaic Virus


Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus


Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus


Tomato Yellow Mosaic Virus


Tomato Yellow Vein Streak Virus


Wild Potato Mosaic Virus