First Report of “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” Associated with Psyllid Yellows of Tomato in Colorado

McKenzie, Shatters (2009). Plant Disease 93 (10)
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter psyllaurous
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
Greenhouse tomato growers from Fort Lupton, CO contacted the USDA-ARS-USHRL in 2002 regarding plant symptoms resembling “psyllid yellows” associated with Bactericera cockerelli (Sulc) infestations that initially begin as retarded growth, erectness of new growth, chlorosis, and purpling of leaves followed by widespread chlorosis and production of many small, poor-quality fruit (1). Symptoms appeared ≈6 weeks after psyllids were observed and were generally restricted to the top half of the plant. Leaf cuttings from beefsteak tomatoes cv. Quest were immediately placed in RNAlater (Applied Biosystems, Austin, TX). Samples from symptomatic and asymptomatic plants were collected in September and December of 2002. At each date, leaves were sampled from multiple plants and placed in separate RNAlater bottles. September samples exhibited initial “psyllid yellows” symptoms and December samples exhibited severe symptoms. Samples remained at 4°C in RNAlater for 6 years until recent findings suggested that a new species of bacteria, named either “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” (2) or “Ca. L. solanacearum” (3), may be the causal agent of “psyllid yellows”. The Qiagen (Valencia, CA) DNeasy Plant Kit and recommended protocols were used for four separate DNA isolations from each of the four tomato samples that had previously remained unopened. Five PCR primer pairs designed to amplify three distinct genetic regions within the “Ca L. psyllaurous” rrn operon (16S rRNA, 16S-23S rRNA intergenic region, and 23S rRNA) were used and one primer pair specific to the tomato DNA (18S rRNA gene) that successfully amplified from all samples was used as a positive control. Bacterial primers included one pair designed specifically for 16S rRNA sequences of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’, ‘americanus’, and ‘africanus’ species (USHRL-CL1) and four sets, Lp-1 through Lp-4, previously described (2) that amplify nonoverlapping regions of the 16S-23S rRNA operon. The USHRL-CL1 primers (USHRL-CL1f: 5′-CTTACCAGCCCTTGACATGTATAGGA-3′, and USHRL-CL1r: 5′-TCCCTATAAAGTACCCAACATCTAGGTAAA-3′) amplify a 195-bp fragment from bp 895 to 1,089 of the ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ sp. 16S rRNA Genbank Accession No. L22532. Only samples from severe symptomatic plants collected in December 2002 yielded amplicons that were purified and sequenced (Genbank: USHRL-CL1, FJ871062; Lp-1, FJ871058; Lp-2, FJ871059; Lp-3, FJ871060; Lp-4, FJ871061). For each bacterial primer pair, the fragment amplified was highly homologous (98 to 100% identity) to “Ca. L. psyllaurous” rRNA gene/intergenic space sequences. The 16S rRNA coding region was identical to two GenBank ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ sp. entries: EU921627 and EU921626 from B. cockerelli samples collected in Dalhart, TX and zebra chip potato samples from Garden City, KS, respectively; however, the whole 2,500 bp amplified and sequenced from our sample contained 11 to 14 polymorphisms when compared to nine “Ca. L. psyllaurous” sequences. Our results clearly indicate that “Ca. L. psyllaurous” isolates were associated with tomato “psyllid yellows” symptoms in Colorado as early as 2002 and significant sequence variation exists within the 16S/23S rRNA intergenic region and 23S rRNA coding region to allow analysis of genetic diversity among “Ca. L. psyllaurous” isolates. References: (1) L. B. Daniels. Ph.D. diss. University of Minnesota, St. Paul, 1954. (2) A. K. Hansen et al. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74:5862, 2008. (3) L. W. Liefting et al. Plant Dis. 93:208, 2009.
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