Barley Stripe Mosaic Virus (BSMV)

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 Biology | Damage description | Diagnosis | Management strategy


Stripe mosaic is a seed-borne virus. In Canada, the virus has occasionally been detected in pedigree seed, but losses caused by BSMV have been rare in recent years. Barley is the main host. On occasions it has been found in wheat and several grass species.

The virus is seed-borne and is transferred from plant to plant when crop leaves rub against one another. Experimentally the virus can be transmitted by pollen, but since barley is self-pollinated this method of spread is generally of no consequence. Infected seeds produce infected plants. Seed from virus-infected plants is generally infected to a 60 per cent level.

Disease builds up when infected seed is planted year after year.

Damage Description

Symptoms may vary with the virulence of the BSMV strain and time of infection. Infections appear as chlorotic mottling with spots or stripes of a yellowish color. Infected plants may be stunted and may mature later than healthy plants.

Yield losses are proportional to the level of infection in the seed lot. Losses are caused by reduced grain production, fewer heads per plant, semi-sterility and incomplete head emergence from the sheath. Heavily infected crops have had yield reductions of up to 25 per cent. The percentage of infected seedlings indicates the level of grain infection.


For a positive identification of the disease send infected (mosaic symptom) seedlings to your nearest plant disease laboratory along with some seed from the seed lot that was sown.

Management Strategy

Avoid introducing the disease. Montana requires seed from Canada to be certified free of this disease. Seed destined for Montana must be tested at the Montana Seed Laboratory, Montana State University, Bozeman.

  • Use virus-free seed.
  • Control volunteer barley. Do not plant barley after barley if the previous barley crop was infected.
Text and captions courtesy of Dr. Ieuan R. Evans
Images courtesy of I. R. Evans and WCPD
This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on November 8, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 15, 2013.