Distribution of Bamboo Witches’ Broom Disease in Various Bamboo Species in the Philippines and Molecular Identification of 'Candidatus Phytoplasma luffae'-related Strain 16SrVIII

Dolores et al. (2023). Philippine Journal of Science 152 (4)
Names (1)
Ca. Phytoplasma luffae
Bamboo is used for making structures, furniture, handicrafts, and ropes, as well as a source of food in the Philippines. One of the emerging diseases of bamboo in the country is the bamboo witches’ broom (BWB), which has been occasionally noted in three genera of bamboo – including Dendrocalamus, Gigantochloa, and Schizostachyum from various provinces in the Philippines (Ilocos Norte, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, and South Cotabato) since the 1990s. However, studies and information about BWB in the country remain lacking and largely unexplored. In this study, we report a similar disease affecting Dendrocalamus and Gigantochloa bamboo species from Bohol and Davao and – for the first time – in Dendrocalamus merrillianus ("bayog") and Bambusa spinosa ("kawayan-tinik") from Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya. As a result of the surveys conducted from 1999–2019, the disease is now identified in six species across four genera of bamboo – namely, Gigantochloa spp. (G. levis and G. atter), Dendrocalamus spp. (D. asper and D. merrillianus), Schizostachyum lumampao, and Bambusa spinosa recorded in 11 provinces in the Philippines. The BWB symptoms include clustering of leaves forming a rosette-like structure, leaf proliferation, excessive limb formation from a single node, and shortening of internodes. Nested PCR using the universal primers P1/P7 and R16MF2/R1 targeting the phytoplasma 16S ribosomal RNA gene revealed positive amplification in five symptomatic BWB samples from Isabela, Philippines. Subsequent sequencing (~ 1.3kbp) and phylogenetic analysis using the representative BWB isolates from Isabela revealed > 98.65% genetic similarity and clustering to Candidatus Phytoplasma luffae, which belongs to the 16SrVIII group (Loofah Witches’ Broom Group). This paper determined the distribution of BWB in different species of bamboo in the Philippines, as well as the association of 'Ca. Phytoplasma luffae'-related strain (16SrVIII) to BWB.
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