During a survey carried out in Jordanian vineyards in August and October 2012, grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) plants showing typical grapevine yellows (GY) disease symptoms, including leaf discoloration and curling, berry shriveling, and irregular maturation of wood, were observed. In the same vineyards, bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis L.) plants showing stunting and leaf chromatic alteration were found, suggesting the involvement of phytoplasmas in the disease etiology. Using a CTAB method, total DNA was extracted from leaf veins of 25 symptomatic and two asymptomatic grapevines, and from five symptomatic and two asymptomatic bindweeds for PCR analysis. DNAs from periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don) plants infected by ‘Ca. Phytoplasma asteris’ strain SAY (group 16SrI), ‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’ strain STOL (group 16SrXII), and ‘Ca. Phytoplasma ulmi’ strain EY1 (group 16SrV), were used as positive controls. DNAs from healthy periwinkle and reactions without template DNA were employed as negative controls. 16S rDNA nested PCRs, carried out using the primer pairs P1/P7, followed by R16F2n/R16R2 (1), yielded an amplicon of the expected size (1,250-bp) in three grapevine and in five bindweed samples, and in positive controls. Amplicons were not produced with DNA from 22 symptomatic grapevines (probably because samples were collected late in the growing season and phytoplasma distribution in plants was non-uniform ); nor from asymptomatic plants and negative controls. PCR products were sequenced by commercial services in Italy (Primm, Milan) and Korea (Macrogen Inc., Soul). Representative 16S rDNA nucleotide sequences were deposited in NCBI GenBank with accessions KC835139 (from grapevine) and KC835140 (from bindweed). The 16S rDNA nucleotide sequences of phytoplasmas identified in grapevine and bindweed in Jordan shared >99.5% sequence identity with ‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’ reference strain STOL (AF248959), and carried identical STOL-unique signature sequences and distinguishing sequence blocks (3). Phylogenetic and in silico RFLP analyses confirmed the affiliation of phytoplasma strains identified in grapevine and bindweed in Jordan to the species ‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’ (subgroup 16SrXII-A), opening an avenue to future studies on the dissemination and impact of Bois noir (BN) in Jordan. These studies may add new information about BN, previously reported in neighboring countries (4). Further studies will investigate the role of Hyalesthes obsoletus Signoret, a polyphagous Cixiidae responsible for the BN phytoplasma transmission in Europe, and other possible insect vector(s) in the BN spread in Jordan. References: (1) I.-M. Lee et al. Int. J. Syst. Bact. 48:1153, 1998. (2) F. E. Constable et al. Plant Pathol. 52:267, 2003. (3) F. Quaglino et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microb. 63:2879. (4) E. Choueiri et al. Plant Dis. 86:697, 2002.
Phytoplasmas classified in group 16SrXII infect a wide range of plants and are transmitted by polyphagous planthoppers of the family Cixiidae. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequence identity and biological properties, group 16SrXII encompasses several species, including ‘Candidatus
’ and ‘Candidatus
’. Other group 16SrXII phytoplasma strains are associated with stolbur disease in wild and cultivated herbaceous and woody plants and with bois noir disease in grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.). Such latter strains have been informally proposed to represent a separate species, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’, but a formal description of this taxon has not previously been published. In the present work, stolbur disease strain STOL11 (STOL) was distinguished from reference strains of previously described species of the ‘Candidatus
’ genus based on 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity and a unique signature sequence in the 16S rRNA gene. Other stolbur- and bois noir-associated (‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’) strains shared >99 % 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity with strain STOL11 and contained the signature sequence. ‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’ is the only phytoplasma known to be transmitted by Hyalesthes obsoletus. Insect vectorship and molecular characteristics are consistent with the concept that diverse ‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’ strains share common properties and represent an ecologically distinct gene pool. Phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA, tuf, secY and rplV–rpsC gene sequences supported this view and yielded congruent trees in which ‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’ strains formed, within the group 16SrXII clade, a monophyletic subclade that was most closely related to, but distinct from, that of ‘Ca.
’-related strains. Based on distinct molecular and biological properties, stolbur- and bois noir-associated strains are proposed to represent a novel species level taxon, ‘Ca. Phytoplasma solani’; STOL11 is designated the reference strain.