P1903297: AHDB Research Call: Monitoring Pansy Mottle Syndrome in-situ

P1903297: AHDB Research Call: Monitoring Pansy Mottle Syndrome in-situ


The bedding and pot plant sector is worth approximately £297 million in the UK (Oxford Economics figure, 2018).  Symptoms of pansy mottle syndrome (PaMS) have been observed as far back as the 1960s, and include leaf distortion, mottling and bleaching of the leaves, stunting, and apical blindness in severe cases. These symptoms have been seen on a range of plants, including Antirrhinum, marigold, pansy, Petunia, stocks, sweet pea and Verbena. Effects can be severe enough to render plants unsaleable, and losses in some production weeks on some nurseries can be as high as 35%. Variety and growth stage can also have a considerable effect on the severity of symptoms and their impact. Early post-germination plants appear to be more susceptible, and severe symptoms can make crops unmarketable. So far, research has established no bacterium or virus that causes PaMS, and despite evidence that indicates high light intensities and high temperatures appear to exacerbate symptoms, it is worth noting that so far, no particular cultural regime has been found that directly and consistently correlates to the development of PaMS. 

Purpose of the call

AHDB is looking to fund work to identify the environmental conditions that trigger the onset of PaMS in-situ on a commercial nursery and to deliver the results and recommendations to industry in a practical format.

Call objectives

  • Monitor environmental factors in-situ at nurseries that have previously experienced problems with PaMS. Monitoring should occur on at least two sites, and at two crop growth stages: the young plant (plug) stage, and the growing on stage (finished plants). Environmental recording should be accurate and precise enough to reflect the growing environment immediately around the crop.
  • Host two irrigation demonstration events at grower nurseries demonstrating irrigation best practice to quantify levels of water applied to crops and the impacts on crop quality, and to aid in the mitigation of PaMS

Research Partnership Approach

Joint proposals from two or more contractors are acceptable and encouraged where there is added value. There should be one organisation designated as the lead organisation for the Research Partnership which is responsible for project management and delivery. Further, priority will be given to the applicants with in-kind and or cash funding from the industry.

Related information

Previous and current work related to the call. It is not an exhaustive list but includes: 


Project title

Year ended

PC 27

Growth Distortion in Bedding Plants: A survey to determine the incidence and potential losses caused by the disorder


PC 27a

Distortion in bedding plants


PC 211

Part 1: An investigation into pansy mottle syndrome (PMS)


PC 286

Bedding plants: Investigating the cause and prevention of “Pansy Mottle Syndrome”


PO 016

The role of environmental factors in the incidence of Pansy Mottle Syndrome


PO 016a

The role of environmental factors in the incidence of Pansy Mottle Syndrome (PaMS)


Project Duration and budget

AHDB has set aside a maximum total budget of £40,000 for one year for these activities. The earliest date of commencement for work funded as a result of this call will be 01 June 2019.

Completion and submission of the application form

Applicants should complete an AHDB Research and KE Application Form – Full Proposal Small, referring to the guidance notes to aid completion. 

Applications are made on the basis of the AHDB Research Funding Agreement and any organisation receiving funding shall comply with the terms and conditions specified in the RFA. AHDB will not be held responsible for any expenses or losses incurred by applicants in the preparation of an application(s).

Completed application forms should be submitted to research@ahdb.org.uk no later than 12:00 noon on 28 May 2019.

Proposed timings for application and project delivery

Call Published

30 April 2019

Full Proposal deadline

12:00 noon on 28 May 2019

There is no Concept or Expressions of Interest phase.

Make an electronic submission to research@ahdb.org.uk 

Receipt will be the time of receiving email.

Project commences

01 September 2019

Project completion

31 May 2020

Questions and Answers

If you have specific questions relating to this call, please email research@ahdb.org.uk 

As part of the open tender process, AHDB cannot discuss specific programme details prior to proposal submission. All Questions & Answers will be published.

Assessment of Proposals

All submitted proposals will be reviewed by cross-sector research representatives within AHDB, and the respective Research and Knowledge Exchange Committees and industry Panels (AHDB Horticulture). If required, external peer reviewers may be sought. The selection will be an open and fair competition according to AHDB’s procurement policy, which complies with EU state aid rules.