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A Beginner’s Guide to Testing for Cannabis Viruses and Viroids

When it comes to the health of your cannabis crop, there is nothing more important. The health of your cannabis plants can impact everything from harvest yields to the health of future harvests. Naturally, making sure the plants remain healthy is a top priority.

The world of viruses and viroids is complex and has a multitude of niches that can be explored. One could spend a lifetime studying the various viruses and viroids that impact cannabis plants, but most of us do not have the time to do so. However, a solid foundation in understanding can go a long way to helping your plants their healthiest and happiest lives.


Looks Can be Deceiving

A grower can tell a lot about what a cannabis plant needs by its physical appearance. However, the health of a cannabis plant is more than just skin deep. The health of a plant begins in areas that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Many of the viruses and viroids plaguing the industry begin on a microscopular level.


Viruses and viroids can begin to impact a plant before physical symptoms begin to appear. These impacts can cause damage that will impact the health of the plant and the outcome of the final product. Even when symptoms begin to rise to the surface, they could begin in an area that is not seen. For example, the root system of the plant.


Viruses and viroids can begin to impact a plant before physical symptoms begin to appear. These impacts can cause damage that will impact the health of the plant and the outcome of the final product. Even when symptoms begin to rise to the surface, they could begin in an area that is not seen. For example, the root system of the plant.


The easiest way to detect viruses and viroids is through testing. As new diseases impact the cannabis industry, a regular testing schedule should be a key point in every grower’s Standard Operating Procedure. Verne BioAnalytics is dedicated to providing growers with high quality testing equipment that they can use throughout the lifecycle of the plant.

Viruses and Viroids: More Than Just Meets The Eye

The list of viruses and viroids is expanding every day. As the legal cannabis industry grows, new challenges arise. Viruses and viroids that were previously only known to impact crops like tobacco, soybeans, and corn now have been found to impact cannabis plants across the nation.


The rise of these viruses and viroids in the cannabis industry has created a push to better understand how they impact plants and how to prevent them from impacting plants. While we may have an understanding of how viruses and viroids impact other plants, it does not always paint the total picture for how they can impact cannabis plants.


Growers have to have an understanding of how viruses and viroids work in order to better understand how to protect their crops. Without knowing how to protect your cannabis crop, it is left at risk of damage or total loss. Thankfully, Verne BioAnalytics is here to help.


An Overview of Viruses

The term virus is something we all have heard of. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, “A virus is an infectious microbe consisting of a segment of nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat. A virus cannot replicate alone; instead, it must infect cells and use components of the host cell to make copies of itself.”


When we think of viruses, we often think of the strains that impact humans. Covid-19 and the flu are typically some of the first kinds of viruses that come to mind. However, viruses can impact any living organism, including plants.


For instance, Alfalfa Mosaic Virus is a virus that typically is known to impact crops like tomatoes, peppers, and alfalfa. However, in recent years, many growers have seen the virus spread to their cannabis crops. These viruses cause widespread damage not only to the impacted crop but to future crops as well.


Some of the most prominent viruses impacting the cannabis industry include;

  • Arabis Mosaic Virus
  • Beet Curly Top Virus
  • Lettuce Chlorosis Virus
  • Tobacco Ringspot Virus
  • Tomato Mosaic Virus

How are Viruses Spread Between Cannabis Crops?


Viruses can be spread in a number of ways. Some of the most common ways include (but are not limited to);

  • Plant to plant contact
  • Host to plant contact (human or animal)
  • Pest infestation
  • Unsanitary Tools (trimming scissors, scoops, etc.)

There are dozens of ways to help prevent a virus from impacting your cannabis crop. Cleaning, sanitizing, preventative testing, and protective gear are all key ways of making sure your cannabis crop stays healthy and happy.


An Overview of Viroids

While everyone has heard of the term virus, the term viroid is less well-known.


According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Viroids are non-coding circular RNA molecules with rod-like or branched structures. They are often ribozymes, characterized by catalytic RNA.”


Some individuals believe viroids preceded DNA and proteins during the evolution process. Researchers from various universities across the globe observed the why behind the theory. In a 2014 paper published by researchers in Germany, Spain, and New Mexico, several explanations for why this might be are listed. These reasons include (but are not limited to);


  • “The intrinsic error-prone replication of primitive RNA systems imposed a limit to the size of their master (predominant) sequences to overcome the “error catastrophe” leading to extinction.”
  • The structure sequence of some viroids is characterized by repeat units of different lengths.
  • Some viroids display catalytic activity via hammerhead ribozymes.


How Are Viroids Spread Among Cannabis Crops?


Viroids are typically spread to cannabis crops in several ways. The most common ways viroids are spread include;

  • Plant to plant
  • Plant damage
  • Pollen or seeds
  • Insects or other live hosts

According to research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Vegetative propagation is the most prevalent mode of spread at the global, national and local level while further dissemination can readily occur by mechanical transmission through crop handling with viroid-contaminated hands or pruning and harvesting tools.”


The Power of Testing

While there are a million and one how-to articles on how to keep your cannabis crops happy and healthy, testing is always a great first line of defense. Testing your cannabis crop throughout its lifecycle can help prevent viruses and viroids from causing damage and revenue loss. Once physical signs of disease are present in cannabis plants, it requires additional labor, supplies, and money to correct the problem.


Implementing testing into your standard operating procedure throughout the plants’ lifecycle can help lessen the risk of crop loss and damage. Testing can be a powerful tool that allows you to have better confidence and control over your crop.


Verne Bio Has Your Back


When it comes to testing for viruses and viroids, there is no one better to have in your corner than Verne Bio. Our state-of-the-art technology is designed to help growers detect symptoms of cannabis diseases early on and help prevent the spread of diseases in the future.


Ready to get started? Shop our online store to find the tools you will need to help put the power of testing into your hands. Browse our selection in your office, your grow, or even from the comfort of your own home.


Not sure where to start? We encourage those who may want some guidance with getting started to reach out. At Verne Bio, our goal is to help put the control of testing into your hands. Reach out to us using our Contact Us page directly on our site, and an individual dedicated to helping address your needs will respond as soon as possible.


What You Can Do To Learn More About Cannabis Viruses And Viroids


If we were to go over every virus and viroid that impacts cannabis plants, this would wind up being a novel! Each individual virus and viroid impact the cannabis plant differently, shows different symptoms, and can be transmitted in different ways. That is why Verne Bio is dedicated to not only providing high quality testing kits for growers but also offering valuable educational content.


To learn about cannabis viruses and viroids, how to test for them, preventative measures you can take in your grow, and more, please visit our website to access our large selection of articles and how-to guides. By investing in education and data, you can take a huge step towards running a successful and healthy grow.



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