PRV is a serious affliction of papayas that threatens Hawaii's papaya industry. The virus, which is found on Oahu and the Big Island, causes poor quality, ring spot blemished papaya fruits, and the eventual death of the plant. Aphids transmit the virus from infected papaya plants to healthy plants.
A PRV management program is in place on the Big Island at Puna, where over 90% of Hawaii's papayas are grown. In the management program, infected plants are identified by Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) Plant Pest Control personnel. Since there is no cure for the virus, these plants are destroyed by the growers. Although it is safe to eat fruits from an infected plant, such fruits are of no commercial value due to its lesser quality.
University of Hawaii researchers are exploring ways to grow good quality papayas in PRV infested areas. One method currently being field tested is the inoculation healthy papaya plants with a mild strain of PRV. Once inoculated, the plant is able to produce good quality fruits while being temporarily resistant to the severe PRV strain. Another method being research is genetically engineered resistance where a gene of PRV is transferred into papaya plants to produce PRV resistance.
DO NOT TRANSPORT PAPAYA PLANTS FROM INFECTED AREAS TO NON-INFECTED AREAS. Doing so may spread the virus to non-infected areas. If you live on Oahu and think your papayas have PRV, don't fret. On Oahu, PRV is everywhere. The good news, is that you still can enjoy fruits from a PRV infected papaya plant. For those on the neighbor islands, please contact the HDOA Plant Pest Control Branch if you suspect your papayas have PRV.