Based on an earlier survey of putative psyllid vectors of apple proliferation (AP), carried out in 2009 and 2010, Cacopsylla picta (Förster) populations infected with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma mali’ were detected in at least two commercial apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) orchards in southern Finland (1). To establish the presence of ‘Ca. P. mali’ in apple trees, a survey was conducted in 17 commercial apple orchards in August 2012. Phytosanitary inspectors tracked the source of the ‘Ca. P. mali’ by collecting 33 leaf samples from trees showing probable symptoms. Typical symptoms, including elongated stipules and witches' broom, were rare. Total DNA was extracted from leaves using a DNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany) and screened for ‘Ca. P. mali’ with real-time PCR (2) and the commercial Apple Proliferation Group – complete PCR reaction kit (Loewe Biochemica GmbH, Sauerlach, Germany). Two samples tested positive and results were confirmed with TaqMan PCR and conventional PCR assays and DNA sequencing in the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), in the United Kingdom. One positive sample was taken from an orchard in Lohja, southern Finland, where high ‘Ca. P. mali’ incidence in overwintered C. picta was observed in 2010 (1). ‘Ca. P. mali’ was found in a >40-year-old ‘Red Melba’ tree with witches' broom but without elongated stipule symptoms. The other positive sample was collected from an orchard in the Aland Islands, where the infected ‘Lobo’ tree showed symptoms of elongated stipules. This orchard was not monitored for AP vectors. No small fruit symptoms were noted by inspectors or growers in either of the orchards. The positive samples were further analyzed for subtypes using PCR/RFLP and primers AP13/AP10 (3). The amplicons (776 bp) were sequenced and digested with HincII and BspHI (New England BioLabs Inc., Ipswich, MA) following manufacturer's instructions. Both samples proved to be apple proliferation subtypes AT-1 on the basis of RFLP and the sequenced 776-bp region. Sequences of the 776-bp amplicon of the Lohja and Aland isolates showed 100% and 99% identity, respectively, with sequences of apple proliferation isolates (accession nos. L22217.1 and CU469464.1) in GenBank. Both suspected psyllid vectors of ‘Ca. P. mali’ C. picta and C. melanoneura (Förster) occur in Finland, but their distribution, abundance, and transmission specificity is inadequately documented. The next step to evaluate the risk of spread of apple proliferation in commercial orchards is an extensive survey of the occurrence of Cacopsylla species infected with ‘Ca. P. mali’. References: (1) A. Lemmetty et al. B. Insectol. 64:257, 2011. (2) P. Nikolić et al. Mol. Cell. Probes. 24:303, 2010. (3) W. Jarausch et al. Mol. Cell. Probes 14:17, 2000.
Carrot (Daucus carota) plants with symptoms resembling those of carrot psyllid (Trioza apicalis) damage (3,4) were observed in 14 commercial fields in southern Finland in August 2008; all cultivars grown were affected at approximately 5 to 35% symptomatic plants per field. T. apicalis, a pest of carrots in northern and central Europe, can cause up to 100% crop loss (3,4). Symptoms on affected plants included leaf curling, yellow and purple discoloration of leaves, stunted growth of shoots and roots, and proliferation of secondary roots (3,4). Given recent association of liberibacter with several annual crops affected by psyllids (1,2), an investigation on whether this bacterium is associated with symptoms of psyllid damage on carrots was conducted. Total DNA was extracted from petiole tissue of 20 symptomatic and 18 asymptomatic plants (cv. Maestro, Nanda, Nipomo, Nerac, and Fontana) sampled from 10 psyllid-infested fields in southern Finland, as well as 15 plants (cv. Primecut, Cheyenne, and Triple Play) grown from seed in an insect-free greenhouse, with the cetyltrimethylammoniumbromide (CTAB) method (2). DNA was also extracted from 10 carrot roots (cv. Nantura) of plants continuously exposed to field-collected carrot psyllid colonies in the laboratory. DNA samples were tested by PCR using primer pairs OA2/OI2c and CL514F/R to amplify a portion of 16S rDNA and rplJ/rplL ribosomal protein genes, respectively, of “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum” (1,2). A 1,168 bp 16S rDNA fragment was detected in DNA from 1 asymptomatic and 16 symptomatic plants and a 669 bp rplJ/rplL fragment was amplified from DNA from 19 symptomatic and 6 asymptomatic plants, indicating presence of liberibacter. DNA from all 10 root samples yielded similar amplicons with both primer pairs. DNA from all the greenhouse carrot plants yielded no amplicon. Amplicons from DNA from three petioles and three roots with each primer pair were cloned (pCR2.1-TOPO; Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) and three clones of each of the 12 amplicons were sequenced (MCLAB, San Francisco, CA). BLAST analysis of the 16S rDNA consensus sequences from petiole and root tissues (GenBank Accession Nos. GU373049 and GU373048, respectively) showed 99.9% identity to those of “Ca. L. solanacearum” amplified from Capsicum annuum (FJ957896) and Solanum lycopersicum (FJ957897) from Mexico, and “Ca. L. psyllaurous” from potato psyllids (EU812559). The rplJ/rplL consensus sequences from petioles and roots (GenBank Accession Nos. GU373051 and GU373050, respectively) were 97.9% identical to the analogous rplJ/rplL “Ca. L. solanacearum” ribosomal protein gene sequence from solanaceous crops in New Zealand (EU834131) and to “Ca. Liberibacter” sp. sequence from zebra chip-affected potatoes in California (FJ498803). To our knowledge, this is the first report of “Ca. L. solanacearum” associated with a nonsolanaceous species and the first report of this pathogen outside of North and Central America and New Zealand (1,2). References: (1) L. W. Liefting et al. Plant Dis. 93:208, 2009. (2) J. E. Munyaneza et al. Plant Dis. 93:552, 2009. (3) G. Nehlin et al. J. Chem. Ecol. 20:771, 1994. (4) A. Nissinen et al. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 125:277, 2007.