EURAVELCH: Improved diagnostics and insights into the occurrence and spread of Little Cherry viruses.


Little cherry viruses are pathogens that attack cherry fruit and can thus cause economic damage. The EURAVELCH project aimed to develop methods to detect the viruses directly in the plant material in order to prevent the virus from spreading. These methods enabled the Little Cherry virus to be detected in Austria for the first time.

Project description

Little cherry viruses are dangerous pests of cherries. The viruses can cause great economic damage by deforming the fruit and rendering the cherries unmarketable. Since these viruses are mainly spread by propagation material (scions), it is important to be able to detect the viruses directly from this plant material using sensitive molecular biological methods. In this project such methods were tested, developed and established.

In the framework of the large-scale project EUPHRESCO, a connection to a transnational network of partners dealing with Little Cherry viruses was established and information on the distribution in the EU was obtained to update the distribution map of the viruses. Networking between laboratories to maximize results with optimal use of resources and consideration of implications for future EU quarantine regulations are also priorities. Not only has better insight into host plants with low cherry disease symptoms been gained through next generation sequencing, but also better knowledge of the presence of viruses and other pathogens that have an impact on the disease complex. Furthermore, a comprehensive overview of disease evolution of sweet and sour cherries as well as ornamentals of the genus Prunus spp. and insights into geographic or host differences were obtained. Ultimately, the agronomic impact of the two viruses (e.g., tree performance, fruit composition, crop yield) was also evaluated.

The EURAVELCH project focused on developing an updated distribution map, standardized diagnostics, and gaining knowledge to understand the genetic variability, epidemiology, and distribution of Little Cherry virus.


Little cherry virus was detected for the first time in Austria. This virus was also detected in scions. By an international PT test the most sensitive PCR method was determined and established in the laboratory. With this sensitive method, plant material can be quickly and reliably tested for this viral disease.

Benefit of the project

Since the Little Cherry virus can cause great economic damage, the project focused on the development of methods to detect the virus. Through the project, knowledge was gained in the detection with molecular genetic methods and the established detection methods can also be used in routine diagnostics.

Project details

Project acronym: EURAVELCH

Project management: Martine Maes and Kris De Jonghe, ILVO (BE)

Project management AGES: DI Dr. Thomas Leichtfried, Institute for Sustainable Plant Production

Project partners: ILVO (BE), CRA-W (BE), ANSES (FR), JKI (DE), Naktuinbouw (NL), Agroscope (CH), CTFIL (FR)


Project duration: 05/2017 until 06/2020

More information

Project website

Last updated: 15.11.2023

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