Liberibacter is a bacterial group causing different diseases and disorders in plants. Among liberibacters, Candidatus Liberibacter solanaceraum (CLso) produces disorders in several species mainly within Apiaceae and Solanaceae families. CLso isolates are usually grouped in defined haplotypes according to single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes associated with ribosomal elements. In order to characterize more precisely isolates of CLso identified in potato in Spain, a Multilocus Sequence Analysis (MLSA) was applied. This methodology was validated by a complete analysis of ten housekeeping genes that showed an absence of positive selection and a nearly neutral mechanism for their evolution. Most of the analysis performed with single housekeeping genes, as well as MLSA, grouped together isolates of CLso detected in potato crops in Spain within the haplotype E, undistinguishable from those infecting carrots, parsnips or celery. Moreover, the information from these housekeeping genes was used to estimate the evolutionary divergence among the different CLso by using the concatenated sequences of the genes assayed. Data obtained on the divergence among CLso haplotypes support the hypothesis of evolutionary events connected with different hosts, in different geographic areas, and possibly associated with different vectors. Our results demonstrate the absence in Spain of CLso isolates molecularly classified as haplotypes A and B, traditionally considered causal agents of zebra chip in potato, as well as the uncertain possibility of the present haplotype to produce major disease outbreaks in potato that may depend on many factors that should be further evaluated in future works.
A new symptomatology was observed in celery (Apium graveolens) in Villena, Spain in 2008. Symptomatology included an abnormal amount of shoots per plant and curled stems. These vegetative disorders were associated with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ and not with phytoplasmas. Samples from plant sap were immobilized on membranes based on the spot procedure and tested using a newly developed real-time polymerase chain reaction assay to detect ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’. Then, a test kit was developed and validated by intralaboratory assays with an accuracy of 100%. Bacterial-like cells with typical morphology of ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ were observed using electron microscopy in celery plant tissues. A fifth haplotype of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’, named E, was identified in celery and in carrot after analyzing partial sequences of 16S and 50S ribosomal RNA genes. From our results, celery (family Apiaceae) can be listed as a new natural host of this emerging bacterium.