Molecular characterization of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma phoenicium’ infecting almond (Prunus dulcis) and evaluation of biochemical defenses produced in the plants

Akkurak et al. (2024). Journal of Phytopathology 172 (1)
Names (1)
Ca. Phytoplasma phoenicium
Agronomy and Crop Science Genetics Physiology Plant Science
AbstractIncreasing incidences of phytoplasma infestations in Almond trees warrants the better management approach to prevent yield losses. Disease management rely on identification of the pathogen based on molecular profiling. The present study aimed, to identify the phytoplasma agent in almond trees and to measure the biochemical responses it causes in the host. Direct and Nested PCRs performed using phytoplasma specific primer pairs 16S rRNA, detected the presence of phytoplasma agent in symptomatic trees but not in symptomless trees. Phylogeny based on the sequence analysis revealed that the infecting agent was closely related to ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma phoenicium’ (16SrIX‐B subgroup). Then the study was carried out to determine the responses of physiological and biochemical mechanisms in almond trees infected with phytoplasma. Total chlorophyll and protein contents of infected almond trees were lower compared to healthy control, on the other hand, the levels of catalase and peroxidase activity increased in infected trees. Higher levels of stress‐related metabolites such as proline (20.53–39.23 μmol/g), phenol (3.00–4.44 mg GAE/g), salicylic (94.96–138.22 ng SA/mg protein) and jasmonic acid (965.86–1465.10 ng JA/mg protein) were observed in infected trees compared to asymptomatic trees, respectively in healthy and infected trees. The results showed that the Ca. P. phoenicium, which was detected for the first time in Türkiye, was able to change the physiological and biochemical mechanisms. The pathogenic agent could possess a potential danger in almond production areas. It is crucially important that this agent should be considered in certification programs.
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