Grapevine Bois noir (BN) is associated with infection by “Candidatus Phytoplasma solani” (CaPsol). In this study, an array of CaPsol strains was identified from 142 symptomatic grapevines in vineyards of northern, central, and southern Italy and North Macedonia. Molecular typing of the CaPsol strains was carried out by analysis of genes encoding 16S rRNA and translation elongation factor EF-Tu, as well as eight other previously uncharacterized genomic fragments. Strains of tuf-type a and b were found to be differentially distributed in the examined geographic regions in correlation with the prevalence of nettle and bindweed. Two sequence variants were identified in each of the four genomic segments harboring hlyC, cbiQ-glyA, trxA-truB-rsuA, and rplS-tyrS-csdB, respectively. Fifteen CaPsol lineages were identified based on distinct combinations of sequence variations within these genetic loci. Each CaPsol lineage exhibited a unique collective restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) pattern and differed from each other in geographic distribution, probably in relation to the diverse ecological complexity of vineyards and their surroundings. This RFLP-based typing method could be a useful tool for investigating the ecology of CaPsol and the epidemiology of its associated diseases. Phylogenetic analyses highlighted that the sequence variants of the gene hlyC, which encodes a hemolysin III-like protein, separated into two clusters consistent with the separation of two distinct lineages on the basis of tufB gene sequences. Alignments of deduced full protein sequences of elongation factor-Tu (tufB gene) and hemolysin III-like protein (hlyC gene) revealed the presence of critical amino acid substitutions distinguishing CaPsol strains of tuf-type a and b. Findings from the present study provide new insights into the genetic diversity and ecology of CaPsol populations in vineyards.
AbstractBois noir, a disease of the grapevine yellows complex, is associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ and transmitted to grapevines in open fields by the cixiids Hyalesthes obsoletus and Reptalus panzeri. In vine-growing areas where the population density of these vectors is low within the vineyard, the occurrence of bois noir implies the existence of alternative vectors. The aim of this study was to identify alternative vectors through screening of the Auchenorrhyncha community, phytoplasma typing by stamp gene sequence analyses, and transmission trials. During field activities, conducted in Northern Italy in a vineyard where the bois noir incidence was extremely high, nine potential alternative insect vectors were identified according to high abundance in the vineyard agro-ecosystem, high infection rate, and harbouring phytoplasma strains characterized by stamp gene sequence variants found also in symptomatic grapevines. Transmission trials coupled with molecular analyses showed that at least eight species (Aphrodes makarovi, Dicranotropis hamata, Dictyophara europaea, Euscelis incisus, Euscelidius variegatus, Laodelphax striatella, Philaenus spumarius, and Psammotettix alienus/confinis) are alternative vectors of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ to grapevines. These novel findings highlight that bois noir epidemiology in vineyard agro-ecosystems is more complex than previously known, opening up new perspectives in the disease management.
Evidence from a preliminary survey highlighted that ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’, the etiological agent of bois noir (BN) disease of grapevine, infects grapevine varieties in Georgia, a country of the South Caucasus. In this study, field surveys were carried out to investigate the BN symptom severity in international and Georgian native varieties. ‘Ca. P. solani’ was detected and identified by polymerase chain reaction-based amplification and restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of 16S ribosomal DNA, and further characterized by multiple gene typing analysis (vmp1 and stamp genes). Obtained data highlighted that the majority of Georgian grapevine varieties showed moderate and mild symptoms, whereas international cultivars exhibited severe symptoms. Molecular characterization of ‘Ca. P. solani’ from grapevine revealed the presence of 11 distinct phytoplasma types. Only one type (VmGe12/StGe7) was identical to a strain previously reported in periwinkle from Lebanon; the other ‘Ca. P. solani’ types are described here for the first time. Phylogenetic analyses of vmp1 and stamp gene concatenated nucleotide sequences showed that ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains in Georgia are associated mainly with the bindweed-related BN host system. Moreover, the fact that ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains are distributed in grapevine cultivars showing a range of symptom intensity suggests a different susceptibility of such local cultivars to BN.
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.