This article reviews current knowledge for Australia over the occurrence, losses caused, epidemiology, and management of virus diseases of perennial pasture legumes. Currently, 24 viruses have been found infecting perennial pasture legumes, and one or more viruses have been detected in 21 of these species. These viruses are transmitted by insect vectors, non-persistently or persistently, by contact or via seed. Their modes of transmission are critical factors determining their incidences within pastures in different climatic zones. Large-scale national or state surveys of lucerne (alfalfa) (Medicago sativa) and white clover (Trifolium repens) pastures revealed that some viruses reach high incidences. Infection with Alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) was very widespread in lucerne stands, and with AMV and White clover mosaic virus (WClMV) in white clover pastures. Several other viruses are potentially important in pastures in these and other perennial temperate/Mediterranean pasture species. Data demonstrating herbage yield losses, diminished pasture persistence, and impaired nitrogen fixation/nodule function are available for AMV in lucerne, and AMV, WClMV, and Clover yellow vein virus in white clover. Integrated Disease Management approaches involving phytosanitary, cultural, chemical, and host resistance control measures are available to minimise virus infection in lucerne and white clover. Research on virus diseases of perennial tropical–subtropical pasture legumes has focussed almost entirely on virus identification, and information on their incidences in pastures, the losses they cause, and how to control them is lacking. Overall, viruses of perennial pasture legumes are least studied in South Australia and the Northern Territory. These and other critical research and development gaps that need addressing are identified.
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Vol. 64 • No. 3