“Bois noir” disease associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ seriously compromises the production and survival of grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.) in Europe. Understanding the plant response to phytoplasmas should help to improve disease control strategies. Using a combined metabolomic and transcriptomic analysis, this work, therefore, investigated the phytoplasma–grapevine interaction in red cultivar Sangiovese in a vineyard over four seasonal growth stages (from late spring to late summer), comparing leaves from healthy and infected grapevines (symptomatic and symptomless). We found an accumulation of both conjugate and free salicylic acids (SAs) in the leaves of ‘Ca. P. solani’-positive plants from early stages of infection, when plants are still asymptomatic. A strong accumulation of gentisic acid (GA) associated with symptoms progression was found for the first time. A detailed analysis of phenylpropanoids revealed a significant accumulation of hydroxycinnamic acids, flavonols, flavan 3-ols, and anthocyanin cyanidin 3-O-glucoside, which are extensively studied due to their involvement in the plant response to various pathogens. Metabolomic data corroborated by gene expression analysis indicated that phenylpropanoid biosynthetic and salicylic acid-responsive genes were upregulated in ‘Ca. P. solani-positive plants compared to -negative ones during the observed period.
Grapevine “bois noir”, related to the presence of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ (‘Ca. P. solani’), represents a serious threat in several vine-growing areas worldwide. In surveys conducted over two years, mild and/or moderate symptoms and lower pathogen titer were mainly associated with ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains harboring a secY gene sequence variant (secY52), whereas severe symptoms and higher titer were mainly observed in grapevines infected by phytoplasma strains carrying any one of another four variants. A comparison of amino acid sequences of the protein SecY of ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains revealed the presence of conservative and semi-conservative substitutions. The deduced three-dimensional (3D) protein analysis unveiled that one semi-conservative substitution identified in the sequence variant secY52 is responsible for a structural disordered region that probably confers a flexibility for binding to distinct molecular complexes. In fact, the other analyzed variants show an organized structure and the 3D in silico prediction allowed the identification of β-sheets. Thus, differences in symptom severity and pathogen concentration observed in grapevines infected by ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains carrying distinct secY gene sequence variants suggest a possible relationship between SecY protein structure and phytoplasma strain virulence.
Bois noir (BN), associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ (CaPsol), is the most widespread disease of the grapevine yellows complex worldwide. In this work, BN epidemiology was investigated in a case study vineyard where an unusual CaPsol strain, previously detected only in other host plants, was found to be prevalent in grapevine. Experimental activities included: symptom observation; sampling of symptomatic vines, Auchenorrhyncha specimens, and weeds; molecular detection and typing of CaPsol strains; statistical analyses for determining possible relationships between CaPsol relative concentration, strain type, and symptom severity. Among insects, Reptalus quinquecostatus was the most abundant and was found to be highly infected by CaPsol, while Hyalesthes obsoletus, the main CaPsol vector, was not caught. Moreover, R. quinquecostatus harbored CaPsol strains carrying uniquely the stamp sequence variant St10, also identified as prevalent in vines and in the majority of weeds, and all the secY variants identified in the vineyard. Statistical analyses revealed that CaPsol strains carrying the St10 variant are not associated with severe symptoms, suggesting their possible moderate virulence. Based on such evidence, a new BN epidemiological pattern related to these CaPsol strains and involving grapevine, R. quinquecostatus, and/or weeds is proposed. Furthermore, the possible presence of other players (vectors and weeds) involved in CaPsol transmission to grapevines was highlighted.
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.