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.
‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pini’-related strain MDPP, the reference strain of subgroup 16SrXXI-B, is a pathogen associated with witches’ broom disease of Pinus spp. in North America. Here, we report the first draft genome sequence of ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pini’ strain MDPP, which consists of 474,136 bases, with a G + C content of 22.22%. This information will facilitate comparative genomics of gymnosperm-infecting phytoplasmas.
Grapevine yellows diseases occur in cultivated grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) on several continents, where the diseases are known by different names depending upon the identities of the causal phytoplasmas. In this study, phytoplasma strains associated with grapevine yellows disease (North American grapevine yellows [NAGY]) in vineyards of Pennsylvania were characterized as belonging to 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene restriction fragment length polymorphism group 16SrI (aster yellows phytoplasma group), subgroup 16SrI-B (I-B), and variant subgroup I-B*. The strains (NAGYI strains) were subjected to genotyping based on analyses of 16S rRNA and secY genes, and to in silico three-dimensional modeling of the SecY protein. Although the NAGYI strains are closely related to aster yellows (AY) phytoplasma strains and are classified like AY strains in subgroup I-B or in variant subgroup I-B*, the results from genotyping and protein modeling may signal ongoing evolutionary divergence of NAGYI strains from related strains in subgroup 16SrI-B.
North American grapevine yellows (NAGY) disease has sometimes been attributed to infection of Vitis vinifera L. by Prunus X-disease phytoplasma (‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’) but this attribution may not be fully adequate. In this study, phytoplasma strains related to ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’ were found in NAGY-diseased grapevines in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, and New York State. Based on restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA gene (16S rDNA) sequences, the strains (termed NAGYIII strains) were classified in group 16SrIII (X-disease group) but they contained a recognition site for the restriction endonuclease MseI that is not present in the 16S rDNA of ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’. The 16S rDNA of the strains differed by three or four nucleotides from that of ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’, indicating that they belonged to two novel 16S rDNA sequevars, designated NAGYIIIα and NAGYIIIβ. Both sequevars differed from ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’ by a single base in each of three regions corresponding to species-unique (signature) sequences described for ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’. Phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA genes and SecY proteins, and single-nucleotide polymorphism analyses of secY and ribosomal protein genes, further distinguished the two grapevine sequevar lineages from one another and from ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’. The NAGYIIIα and NAGYIIIβ sequevars also differed from ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’ in regions of the folded SecY protein that are predicted to be near or exposed at the outer surface of the phytoplasma membrane. No evidence indicated that diseased grapevines contained any phytoplasma strain conforming to ‘Ca. Phytoplasma pruni’ sensu stricto. Because the NAGYIII sequevars have not been reported in X-disease, a question is raised as to whether NAGYIII and Prunus X-disease are caused by different phytoplasma genotypes.
Phytoplasmas are a diverse but phylogenetically coherent group of cell-wall-less bacteria affiliated with the class
. Due to difficulties in establishing axenic culture, phytoplasmas were assigned to a provisional genus, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’, and the genus was embraced within the order
. However, phytoplasmas differ significantly from species of the genus
in their habitat specificities, modes of life, metabolic capabilities, genomic architectures, and phylogenetic positions. This communication describes the unique ecological, nutritional, biochemical, genomic and phylogenetic properties that distinguish phytoplasmas from species of the genus
and all other taxa in the class
. Since such distinguishing properties of the phytoplasmas are not referable to the descriptions of the order
and of all other existing orders, namely
, this communication raises the question of whether ‘
’ should be retained in the order
or whether a novel provisional order and family should be created to accommodate the genus ‘
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.