First Report of “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” (synonym “Ca. L. solanacearum”) Associated with ‘Tomato Vein-Greening’ and ‘Tomato Psyllid Yellows’ Diseases in Commercial Greenhouses in Arizona

Brown et al. (2010). Plant Disease 94 (3)
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter psyllaurous
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
During the winter of 2006–2007, plants in commercial tomato greenhouses (GH-1 and GH-2; total 320 acres [129.5 ha]) in Arizona were infested with the potato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Sulc) and more than 60% and ~20% of the plants, respectively, exhibited leaf curling, chlorosis, and shortened internodes. In addition, some plants in GH-1 developed an unusual ‘vein-greening’ phenotype. Nucleic acids were isolated from 10 symptomatic and three asymptomatic plants from each greenhouse. PCR primers designed to amplify a phytoplasma-like 16S rDNA (850 bp) yielded the expected size product from GH-1 samples, whereas samples from GH-2 and the asymptomatic samples from both greenhouses did not. Several 16S rDNA PCR products (3 of 60) when cloned and sequenced, surprisingly shared 97% homology with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (GenBank No. GQ926917). PCR primers PSY680F 5′-GTTCGGAATAACTGGGCGTA-3′ and PSY1R 5′-CCCATAAGGGCCATGAGGACT-3′, based on the resultant 16S rDNA sequences, were used to amplify a 680-bp fragment from plant DNA extracts and psyllid lysates (1). A robust PCR product (~680 bp) was obtained from 10 of 10 GH-1 plant extracts (GQ926918) and from a GH-1-derived psyllid colony (28 of 35 adults) (GQ926919) and the tomato plants on which they were reared. In contrast, no 680-bp product was obtained from GH-1 asymptomatic plants (0 of 3), GH-2 plants (0 of 10 symptomatic; 0 of 3 asymptomatic), GH-2-derived psyllid colonies (0 of 35 adults), or psyllid colony tomato plants (data not shown). At least three 680-bp amplicons for each sample type were cloned and 8 to 10 inserts were sequenced for each. BLAST analysis revealed that all 680-bp sequences shared 99 to 100% nt identity with the analogous 16SrDNA from “Ca. Liberibacter psyllaurous” (2) and synonym “Ca. L. solanacearum” (3). A second molecular marker was obtained with the 1611F and 480R primers (2) to amplify the 16SrDNA-23S-ITS (980 bp) from >3 plant extracts and psyllid lysates that tested positive for liberibacter. Clustal W alignment of the 16S-23S-ITS sequences from GH-1 original tomato plants and psyllid colony plants (GQ926920) and psyllids (GQ926921) indicated they were 100% identical to each other and BLAST analysis indicated 99 to 100% shared identity with “Ca. L. psyllaurous” (EU812558) (synonym “Ca. L. solanacearum”). Transmission electron microscopy examination of GH-1 and GH-2 psyllids revealed rod and pleomorphic-shaped bacteria (0.5 to 2.0+ μm) at the brain-salivary gland interface in psyllids from the GH-1 liberibacter-positive colony. No such bacteria were observed in GH-2 liberibacter-negative psyllids. These results support an etiological role of a new liberibacter spp. in the development of the ‘vein-greening’ symptom phenotype. In contrast, the GH-2 ‘yellows’ phenotype is reminiscent of ‘psyllid toxicity’ in tomato colonized by B. cockerelli (4). To our knowledge, this is the first report of distinct psyllid-associated diseases in greenhouse tomato in Arizona, one associated with a new ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ spp., manifest as ‘vein-greening’ disease, and the other associated with psyllid feeding, in which liberibacter is undetectable in plants and psyllids, and is manifest as the ‘tomato psyllid yellows’ disease. References: (1) D. R. Frohlich et al. Mol. Ecol. 8:1683, 1999. (2) A. K. Hansen et al. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74:5862, 2008. (3) L. W. Liefting et al. Plant Dis. 93:208, 2009. (4) H. J. Pack. Utah Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull. 209, 1929.
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