Effect of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’ Infection on Sweet Cherry Fruit

Wright et al. (2021). Phytopathology® 111 (12)
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Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
In sweet cherry (Prunus avium), infection by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’ results in small fruit with poor color and taste, rendering the fruit unmarketable. Yet the disease pathology is poorly understood, particularly at the cultivar level. Therefore, in this study we examined the physiological effects of Ca. P. pruni infection across a range of cultivars and locations in eastern Washington. We found that infection could be separated into early and established stages based on pathogen titer, which correlated with disease severity, including fruit size, color, and sugar and metabolite content. Furthermore, we observed that the effects of early-stage infections were largely indistinguishable from healthy, uninfected plants. Cultivar- and location-specific disease outcomes were observed with regard to size, color, sugar content, and citric acid content. This study presents the first in-depth assessment of X-disease symptoms and biochemical content of fruit from commercially grown sweet cherry cultivars known to be infected with Ca. P. pruni.
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