Phytoplasmas are associated with important bacterial diseases, causing severe symptoms in agricultural and ornamental crops. ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma rubi’, associated with the Rubus stunt in raspberries (Rubus idaeus) and blackberries (Rubus subgenus Rubus), causes shortened internodes, elongated sepals, proliferation, phyllody, and virescence. The recently published genome of ‘Ca. P. rubi’ RS enabled a comprehensive genomic comparison to the complete genomes of 16SrV phytoplasmas, comprising strains of the flavescence dorée-associated phytoplasma CH and two ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma ziziphi’ strains. Besides the typical transporters and metabolic features of phytoplasmas, the phosphorolysis of sucrose and the utilization of the carboxylic acid L-lactate became apparent for the 16SrV-group. With respect to the effector repertoire and the encoded immunodominant membrane proteins involved in host colonization, the group revealed conserved features that comprise the variable membrane proteins A and B. However, SAP11- and SAP54 orthologs were limited to ‘Ca. P. rubi’ RS and ‘Ca. P. ziziphi’. Genome-sequence-based phylogenetic analysis supports the close relationship of these genomes relative to alder yellows phytoplasmas. The analyses supported the impact of the mobilome on phytoplasma evolution but also highlighted that there is the possibility of identifying phytoplasmas with a larger metabolic repertoire in the future.
The phytoplasma “
Phytoplasma rubi” is associated with
stunt disease. The complete genome was determined by assembling Oxford Nanopore Technologies system-derived long reads, with short-read polishing with Illumina reads. The genome of strain RS, from Germany, is organized in one circular chromosome with a length of 762 kb.
Two phloem-limited pathogens, 'Candidatus Arsenophonus phytopathogenicus' and 'Candidatus Phytoplasma solani', threaten sugar beet production in France, Switzerland and Germany. Previous studies of these pathogens in Germany had focused on its western and southern regions, leaving a knowledge gap about eastern Germany. Despite their importance, this study is the first to investigate phytoplasmas in sugar beet in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. A phytoplasma strain related to 'Ca. P. solani' is found predominant in Saxony-Anhalt, unlike in France, where 'Ca. P. solani' has a minor role compared to 'Ca. A. phytopathogenicus'. The phytoplasma strain infecting sugar beet in Saxony-Anhalt was classified into a new subgroup designated as 16SrXII-P. The MLSA of non-ribosomal genes of the novel phytoplasma strain showed that it is significantly different from the reference and all previously reported 'Ca. P. solani' strains including strain from western Germany. Analyses of sugar beet samples from previous years confirmed the presence of the 16SrXII-P strain in sugar beet as early as 2020, and also in Bavaria in southern Germany. Based on 16S rDNA analysis, 'Ca. A. phytopathogenicus' in Saxony-Anhalt is identical to strains in sugar beet in other parts of Germany and France, as well as to a strain in potato from Germany. The presence and prevalence of two phytoplasmas in sugar beet in Germany, suggest that more attention should be directed towards understanding phytoplasma infection in sugar beet in this country.
The genus ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ was proposed to accommodate cell wall-less bacteria that are molecularly and biochemically incompletely characterized, and colonize plant phloem and insect vector tissues. This provisional classification is highly relevant due to its application in epidemiological and ecological studies, mainly aimed at keeping the severe phytoplasma plant diseases under control worldwide. Given the increasing discovery of molecular diversity within the genus ‘Ca. Phytoplasma’, the proposed guidelines were revised and clarified to accommodate those ‘Ca. Phytoplasma’ species strains sharing >98.65 % sequence identity of their full or nearly full 16S rRNA gene sequences, obtained with at least twofold coverage of the sequence, compared with those of the reference strain of such species. Strains sharing <98.65 % sequence identity with the reference strain but >98.65 % with other strain(s) within the same ‘Ca. Phytoplasma’ species should be considered related strains to that ‘Ca. Phytoplasma’ species. The guidelines herein, keep the original published reference strains. However, to improve ‘Ca. Phytoplasma’ species assignment, complementary strains are suggested as an alternative to the reference strains. This will be implemented when only a partial 16S rRNA gene and/or a few other genes have been sequenced, or the strain is no longer available for further molecular characterization. Lists of ‘Ca. Phytoplasma’ species and alternative reference strains described are reported. For new ‘Ca. Phytoplasma’ species that will be assigned with identity ≥98.65 % of their 16S rRNA gene sequences, a threshold of 95 % genome-wide average nucleotide identity is suggested. When the whole genome sequences are unavailable, two among conserved housekeeping genes could be used. There are 49 officially published ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ species, including ‘Ca. P. cocostanzaniae’ and ‘Ca. P. palmae’ described in this manuscript.
The γ-proteobacterium ‘Candidatus Arsenophonus phytopathogenicus’ is assigned as the major pathogen of “Syndrome des basses richesses”, a sugar beet disease characterised by a reduction in the sugar content of taproots and biomass yield. Despite the economic impact of this bacteriosis, diagnostics for this important pathogen currently rely on end-point PCR detection. Herein, we introduce a TaqMan qPCR for diagnostics of the agent targeting genes encoding a heat shock protein of the Hsp20 family and mannose-6-phosphate isomerase. Quantitation with synthetic oligonucleotides as standard showed that the developed TaqMan qPCR assays enable the detection of up to 100 target copies. A comparison between the TaqMan qPCR and end-point PCR for ‘Ca. A. phytopathogenicus’ detection was carried out on 78 sugar beet samples from different locations in southern Germany. The newly developed assays enable the fast, reliable and sensitive detection of ‘Ca. A. phytopathogenicus’ in sugar beet.
Rubbery taproot disease of sugar beet (RTD), associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’, appeared in 2020 on an epidemic scale in northern Serbia and southern Slovakia, situated at opposite edges of the Pannonian Plain. In the affected locations where the disease was assessed, symptomatic sugar beets were analysed for phytoplasma infection. Additionally, multilocus sequence analyses of ‘Ca. P. solani’ strains on epidemiologically informative marker genes (tuf, stamp and vmp1) were performed. Symptomatic sugar beets from other countries of the Pannonian Plain (Croatia, Hungary and Austria), one sample from Germany, and red beets from Serbia were included in the analyses. ‘Ca. P. solani’ was detected in sugar beet in all assessed countries, as well as in red beet. Molecular analyses revealed the high genetic variability of ‘Ca. P. solani’ with the presence of all four tuf-types (a, b1, b2 and d), 14 stamp genotypes (seven new) and five vmp1 profiles (one new). The most common multilocus genotype in Serbia, Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary was dSTOLg (tuf-d/STOL/V2-TA). It was dominant on sites with epidemic RTD outbreaks in the Pannonian Plain and in several sugar beet fields with non-epidemic RTD occurrence suggesting the prevalence of a particular epidemiological pathway during the epidemic’s phases.
Rubbery taproot disease (RTD) of sugar beet was observed in Serbia for the first time in the 1960s. The disease was already described in neighboring Bulgaria and Romania at the time but it was associated with abiotic factors. In this study on RTD of sugar beet in its main growing area of Serbia, we provide evidence of the association between ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ (stolbur phytoplasma) infection and the occurrence of typical RTD symptomatology. ‘Ca. P. solani’ was identified by PCR and the sequence analyses of 16S ribosomal RNA, tuf, secY, and stamp genes. In contrast, the causative agent of the syndrome “basses richesses” of sugar beet—namely, ‘Ca. Arsenophonus phytopathogenicus’—was not detected. Sequence analysis of the stolbur strain’s tuf gene confirmed a previously reported and a new, distinct tuf stolbur genotype (named ‘tuf d’) that is prevalent in sugar beet. The sequence signatures of the tuf gene as well as the one of stamp both correlate with the epidemiological cycle and reservoir plant host. This study provides knowledge that, for the first time, enables the differentiation of stolbur strains associated with RTD of sugar beet from closely related strains, thereby providing necessary information for further epidemiological work seeking to identify insect vectors and reservoir plant hosts. The results of this study indicate that there are differences in hybrid susceptibility. Clarifying the etiology of RTD as a long-known and economically important disease is certainly the first step toward disease management in Serbia and neighboring countries.
Herein, we report the draft genome sequence of “
Phytoplasma pruni” strain ChTDIII (subgroup 16SrIII-B). The final assembly consists of 790,517 nucleotides organized in 67 contigs (minimal size, 1 kb), with a G+C content of 29.4% and encoding 672 proteins.
‘Candidatus Phytoplasma ulmi’ is the agent associated with elm yellows and has been categorised in the European Union as a quarantine pathogen. For central and northern European countries, information on the occurrence and distribution of the pathogen and its impact on elms is scarce, so a survey of native elm trees has been conducted in Germany.
About 6500 samples from Ulmus minor, Ulmus laevis and Ulmus glabra, were collected nationwide. Phytoplasma detection was performed by applying a universal 16Sr DNA-based quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay and a novel ‘Ca. P. ulmi’ specific qPCR assay targeting the 16S–23S spacer region. Both assays revealed that 28% of the samples were infected by ‘Ca. P. ulmi’, but infection rates of the elm species and regional incidences differed. The phytoplasma presence in the trees was not correlated to disease-specific symptoms. The survey identified a regional disparity of infection which was high in east, south and central Germany, whereas only a few infected sites were found in the western and northern parts of the country. Monitoring the seasonal titre of ‘Ca. P. ulmi’ in an infected tree by qPCR revealed a high colonisation in all parts of the tree throughout the year.
‘Ca. P. ulmi’ is widely present in elms in Germany. The rare occurrence of symptoms indicates either a high degree of tolerance in elm populations or a low virulence of pathogen strains enabling high infection rates in a long-living host.