A survey of weeds was undertaken in a palm nursery affected by lethal bronzing (LB) to identify a reservoir host of the causal phytoplasma. Three common species were identified; Urochloa maxima (Guineagrass), Sporobolus indicus (smut grass), and Cyperus esculentus (yellow nutsedge) and sampled over a period of 2 years. Each species was sampled 36 times and all three species were negative for the LB phytoplasma. However, three specimens of C. esculentus tested positive for the phytoplasma species ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma brasiliense’. These findings represent the first documented case of ‘Ca. P. brasiliense’ in North America, specifically in Florida, U.S.A., as well as a new host record for the phytoplasma and the first monocot host documented. Because of the impact this phytoplasma has on papaya and hibiscus in South America, it presents a unique threat to ornamental and agricultural sectors in south Florida. An area-wide survey for the phytoplasma and potential vectors is recommended.
Bois noir, an economically important disease of grapevine yellows that causes significant economic losses in wine production, is associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ and transmitted to grapevines by cixiids Hyalesthes obsoletus and Reptalus panzeri. Polyphagous planthopper Dictyophara europaea, commonly found in natural habitats, harbors phytoplasmas from distinct groups and is an alternative vector in the open epidemiological cycles of the Flavescence dorée phytoplasma in grapevine in European vineyards. This study addresses the role of D. europaea in the transmission cycle(s) of ‘Ca. P. solani’ among wild habitats, natural reservoir plants, and the vineyard agroecosystem using MLSA and transmission trials with naturally infected adults to grapevine and Catharanthus roseus. The infection rates of D. europaea ranged from 7% to 13% in diverse locations, while reservoir herbaceous plants were infected in the amount of 29%. A total of 13 CaPsol MLSA genotypes were detected in D. europaea (7) and plants (8). Nine of them corresponded to previously identified genotypes. Two new genotypes were found in D. europaea (tuf-b1/S1/V14/Rqg50-sv1 and tuf-b1/S18/V14/Rqg50-sv1) and one in Convolvulus arvensis (tuf-b1/S1/V2-TA/Rqg31-sv1), whereas one was shared by two hosts, Crepis foetida and Daucus carota (tuf-b1/S1/V2-TA/STOL-sv1). Naturally infected D. europaea successfully transmitted the tuf-b1/S1/V2-TA/STOL type to five grapevines and six periwinkles, tuf-b1/S1/V2-TA/Rqg31 to one grapevine, and tuf-b1/S1/V2-TA/Rqg50 to one periwinkle, indicating that D. europaea is an intermediate vector in CaPsol epidemiological cycles.
Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB, also known as “citrus greening”), an important disease worldwide, is associated with three species of phloem-limited Candidatus liberibacter, of which Candidatus L. asiaticus (CLas) is the predominant one that has severely affected citrus production. TaqMan real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (TM) has been the standard and very efficient method to diagnose several strains of Candidatus Liberibacter in citrus; however, it detects total bacteria and is unable to differentiate dead from live Liberibacter. The detection of only live bacteria is essential for testing methods of control for this important citrus disease. It is well known that ethidium monoazide and propidium monoazide (PMA) are compounds that supposedly enter only dead or membrane-damaged bacteria, intercalate the DNA strand, and make the DNA unavailable for amplification by PCR. These compounds are widely used when extracting the plant DNA to detect only live bacteria. In this research, we tested primers amplifying products from 79 to 1160 bp in TM and SYBR Green real-time PCR (SG) and PMA as DNA intercalating compound. Specifically, primers amplifying a 500-bp amplicon in SG provided the most reliable live-only detection, whereas those producing a smaller amplicon were unable to distinguish between live and dead. This is the first report of testing primers amplifying various amplicon sizes for the detection of only live CLas cells in citrus.
AbstractPear decline, induced by the phytoplasma 'Candidatus Phytoplasma pyri', transmitted by pear psyllids, is one of the most devastating diseases on Pyrus communis in Europe and North America. Investigations of pear psyllids in 4 pear orchards in lower Austria showed the presence of Cacopsylla pyri, C. pyricola and C. pyrisuga at all locations. PCR analyses revealed overall phytoplasma infection rates for C. pyri of 5.4%, for C. pyricola, of 4.6%, for C. pyrisuga remigrants of 9.6% and for C. pyrisuga emigrants of 0%. The rates of PCR-positive C. pyri and C. pyricola individuals varied greatly in the course of the year, and the highest infection rates were observed in late summer, autumn and in late winter. In transmission experiments with healthy pear seedlings, winterform individuals of C. pyri and C. pyricola transmitted the pathogen to 19.2% (5 out of 26) and 4.8% (2 out of 41) of the test plants, respectively. The vectoring ability of C. pyrisuga was experimentally proven for the first time, and in transmission experiments with remigrants, 9.5% (2 out of 21) of the pear seedlings were infected. Our data indicate a significant risk of pathogen transmission in pear orchards during the greater part of the year, especially in late winter, early spring and autumn. Multilocus sequence analysis by aid of the genes aceF and imp allowed the discrimination between 15 phytoplasma types. Three so far undescribed aceF genotypes and four undescribed imp genotypes were identified.
‘Candidatus Phytoplasma spp.’ are pathogenic bacteria that infect many plant species. ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pyri’, one of the members of the 16SrX group causes pear decline disease that adversely affects pear crops. To describe the prevalence of ‘Ca. P. pyri’ genotypes in the Czech Republic, 143 pear samples were collected from 41 locations including commercial orchards as well as trees along roads. Phytoplasma was detected by PCR in 115 samples, and it was possible to determine imp gene genotype in 84 samples. The most frequent genotypes were A1, B1, and C, which were identified in 71% of phytoplasma positive samples. ‘Ca. P. pyri’ was present either alone or as a mix of two populations in 88% of genotyped samples, and in another 6% of samples it was found in a mixed infection with ‘Ca. Phytoplasma mali’. A sole infection with ‘Ca. Phytoplasma mali’ was observed in 6% of samples. As for symptoms, 19% of symptomatic samples were found to be phytoplasma negative, and 74% of asymptomatic samples proved to be phytoplasma positive; leaf roll was more often observed in phytoplasma positive samples, while leaf narrowing rather indicated the absence of phytoplasma. The mildest symptoms were observed in samples infected with ‘Ca. P. pyri’ of the A1 imp genotype.
Grafting a scion onto a rootstock results in physical and physiological changes in plant growth and development, which can affect tree vigor, productivity, and tolerance to stress and disease. Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most destructive citrus diseases and has become endemic in Florida since its introduction in 2005. It is associated with the phloem-limited bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), which cause severe metabolic disruptions in affected plants. Although most scion cultivars are highly susceptible, some rootstock cultivars are tolerant and allow the grafted tree to cope better with the disease. The objectives of this study were to identify rootstock traits that can be used to assess cultivars under controlled greenhouse conditions in advance of longer-term field trials. We used 10 commercially important rootstocks with different genetic backgrounds and known field performance in graft combination with ‘Valencia’ sweet orange scion. Trees were graft-inoculated with CLas and compared against mock-inoculated trees. Tree health and CLas populations were assessed regularly, and root growth was monitored using a minirhizotron imaging system. Plants were excavated and destructively sampled 21 months after inoculation to assess biomass distributions and other CLas-induced effects. We found significant differences between healthy and infected trees for most variables measured, regardless of the rootstock. In contrast to leaf CLas titers, root titers were significantly influenced by the rootstock, and highest levels were measured for ‘Ridge’ sweet orange and sour orange. Root growth and root biomasses were reduced upon infection but differences among rootstocks did not always agree with reported field performances. Despite severe biomass reductions plants maintained their relative distribution of biomass among different components of the root system, and no dead roots were observed. Root respiration was reduced by CLas infection and was overall higher in tolerant cultivars suggesting its potential as a physiological marker. This study improves our knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of assessing rootstock traits of grafted trees in a controlled greenhouse setting. Results from the study suggest that in addition to HLB tolerance, other rootstock traits will ultimately have major contributions to field survival and productivity of the grafted trees in an HLB endemic production environment.