Grapevine Bois noir (BN) is associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’. It has been recorded in vineyards throughout Europe as well as in different countries in Asia, where it now constitutes a threat to Iranian viticulture. BN is strictly dependent on ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains, wild host plants, and insect vectors. The molecular typing of ‘Ca. P. solani’, based on the nonribosomal gene tuf and the two hypervariable markers vmp1 and stamp, is valuable for the reconstruction and clarification of the pathways of BN spread. In this study, an RFLP analysis was performed on the vmp1 gene, and a single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis confirmed new vmp types in ‘Ca. P. solani’. A stamp gene phylogenetic analysis allowed us to distinguish between the new genotype infections in the grapevines and the ‘weeds’ Convolvulus arvensis and Erigeron bonariensis in Iranian vineyards, highlighting the close genetic relatedness of the strains of ‘Ca. P. solani’ found in Iran and Azerbaijan. The most common genotype in the grapevines was tuf b/V24/stamp III, which was associated with C. arvensis. This information contributes toward the identification of further routes of introduction of ‘Ca. P. solani’ in Iran to sustain the control measures for the management of BN.
Grapevine Bois noir (BN) is caused by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ (‘Ca. P. solani’) and is one of the most important phytoplasma diseases in the Euro-Mediterranean viticultural areas. The epidemiology of BN can include grapevine as a plant host and is usually transmitted via sap-sucking insects that inhabit herbaceous host plants. Tracking the spread of ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains is of great help for the identification of plant reservoirs and insect vectors involved in local BN outbreaks. The molecular epidemiology of ‘Ca. P. solani’ is primarily based on sequence analysis of the tuf housekeeping gene (which encodes elongation factor Tu). In this study, molecular typing of tuf, through restriction fragment length polymorphism and sequencing, was carried out on grapevine samples from Iranian vineyards. According to the molecular characterization, three molecular types—tuf b1, tuf b5 and tuf b6—were found, with tuf b1 being the most prominent. These data provide further knowledge of tuf gene diversity and question the ecological role of such “minor” tuf types in Iranian vineyards, which have been detected only in grapevines.
Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) is one of the most important horticultural crops in Iran, with >200,000 ha of cultivated area. Recently, outbreaks of the grapevine yellows Bois noir that is associated with phytoplasma strains related to ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ were recorded in several Iranian regions. This has resulted in severe economic losses. We carried out a survey in 2015, followed by collection of leaf samples from symptomatic grapevines and weeds. Because no information is available on the molecular epidemiology of ‘Ca. P. solani’ in Iran, multiple gene analyses were carried out here according to molecular characterization of the tuf and vmp1 genes. From the molecular characterization, all of the samples (i.e., grapevines, weeds) were infected with tuf b type. Detailed molecular characterization of the vmp1 gene (i.e., PCR–restriction fragment length polymorphism, sequence analysis) defined five molecular types: V1, V4, V10, V15, and V20. The abundance of Convolvulus arvensis in vineyards and detection of the same ‘Ca. P. solani’ molecular types in grapevines and weeds suggest that C. arvensis has a major role in Bois noir epidemiology of Iranian vineyards. Therefore, control strategies should be developed to manage these host plants to reduce inoculum sources of the phytoplasma in vineyards.