Groundnut ringspot virus, which is related to tomato spotted wilt virus, continues to expand its range in Florida.
For the first time, it was found in St. Lucie County, according to an e-mail from University of Florida Extension regional vegetable agent Gene McAvoy.
It also marks the first time the viral disease was found in ground cherry.
The original host was bell pepper, but further scouting turned up the new host plant.
The viral disease also has been found in American black nightshade, marking expansion of its host range.
Although the weeds are potential reservoirs for the virus, researchers have not found large numbers to be infected.
Groundnut ringspot virus is spread by thrips and infects Solaceous plants, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and now ground cherry and nightshade.
It can kill or severely stunt eggplant, tomato and pepper plants and cause deformed fruit. But it is harmless to humans and other animals.
For more on groundnut ringspot virus, read the article in the November-December Citrus + Vegetable Magazine.