Background: Alfalfa, Medicago sativa L. is the most important and widely grown leguminous fodder crop in temperate and tropical regions of the world. The production of alfalfa crop is limited by several biotic stresses, among which witches’ broom disease (AWB) was reported to cause significant economic losses.
Methods: The phytoplasma infected alfalfa plants were collected from a central research farm, ICAR-IGFRI, Jhansi, U.P. Qualitative parameters such as crude protein content, acid detergent fibre and neutral detergent fibre were estimated in diseased and healthy plants. Phytoplasma universal primer (P1/P7) and nested primer (R16mF2/R16mR1) were used for the molecular characterization of AWB infected plants and phytoplasma infected, Parthenium hysterophorus. Result: The incidence of AWB disease ranged from 8-10%. The quantitative analysis of disease plants showed reduced plant height (-35%), fresh weight (-46.89%) and dry weight (-50.08%) compared to healthy plants. The diseased plant recorded low crude protein content (-21.38%) and higher dry matter content (+0.68%), acid detergent fibre (+33.72%) and neutral detergent fibre (+13.06%). The association of phytoplasma in diseased alfalfa and parthenium samples was confirmed by using P1/P7 and R16mF2/R16mR1 primer pair and Blastn analysis shared 99.6-100% similarity with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma australasia’ belongs to the 16Sr group II-D.