New virus carried by WBPH becoming widespread in hybrid rice

Last year Chinese scientists described a fijivirus infesting rice which they named RBSDV-2 (Rice black streak dwarf virus – 2) (Zhang et al 2008) or the Southern rice black-streaked dwarf virus (SRBSDV) (Zhou et al 2008). 

The characteristics of this apparently new virus are rather similar to the RBSDV transmitted by the small brown planthopper (sBPH) and that is normally found in temperate rice.

The new virus however seems to be efficiently transmitted by the white backed planthopper (WBPH) and occurs mainly in hybrid rice in China’s southern provinces, like Guangdong and Hainan.

The rapid spread of this new virus in hybrid rice in the southern provinces of China is drawing concerns as there is limited knowledge of this new problem. Recently there was a report of rice crops with similar symptoms found in Vietnam’s Red River Delta.

Recently large areas in many provinces in China were found to have infections and in Hunan province a report in Chinese was published. and

Here is the report I have translated into English.

Field surveys in Hunan Province conducted by the Institute of Plant Protection, of the Hunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (HAAS) in August 2009 showed that the SRBSDV has infested the counties of Hanshou, Taoyuan, Linxiang, Yongzhou, Chenxi, Changsha and Dingcheng.

The estimated infested area was about 17,000 hectares that had suffered more than 70% rice yield loss. The economic loss was about 30 million yuan (or US$4.9 million). RBSDV is transmitted by mainly transmitted by the WBPH.

Local farmers initially thought that the dwarfism of their rice crops were caused by seed quality and demanded compensation from the local government and seed dealers. Hunan authorities have developed several measures as follows:

The Institute of Plant Protection, HAAS, was to organize experts to investigate the problem further, determine the main causes of the sudden outbreak and its distribution.

  • Develop strategies to manage the vector WBPH.and sBPH
  • Conduct training course for farmers.
  • Organize experts in virus disease and rice planthoppers to develop management strategies.


Zhang H.M., Yang, J., Chen, J.P. and Adams, M.J. 2008. A black-streaked dwarf disease on rice in China is caused by a novel fijivirus.  Arh Virol 153, 1893 – 1898.

Zhou, G.H., Wen, J.J., Cai, D.J., Li, P., Xu, D.L. and Zhang, S.G. 2008. Southern rice black-streaked dwarf virus: A new proposed Fijivirus species in the family Reoviridae. Chinese Science Bull., 53, 3677 – 3685.

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