First Report of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma trifolii’-Related Strain Associated with Safflower Phyllody Disease in Iran

Salehi et al. (2008). Plant Disease 92 (4)
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Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
During a survey in 2003, safflower plants (Carthamus tinctorius) with phyllody symptoms were observed in production fields in several districts of Fars and Yazd provinces in Iran. Affected plants showed floral virescence, phyllody, proliferation of axillary buds, and little leaf symptoms. Incidence of the disease was less than 10%. Direct and nested PCR assays were used to verify association of phytoplasma with the disease. Total DNA was extracted from fresh, fine roots of eight phyllody-affected safflower plants and one symptomless plant. With phytoplasma universal primer pair P1/P7 (5′-AAGAGTTTGATCCTGGCTCAGGATT-3′/5′-CGTCCTTCATCGGCTCTT-3′), target DNA fragments of approximately 1.8 kb were amplified by direct PCR from phyllody-affected plants and Iranian cabbage yellows (ICY) phytoplasma used as a positive control. Reamplification of P1/P7 products with 16S rRNA gene primer pair R16F2n/R16R2 (5′-GAAACGACTGCTAAGACTGG-3′/5′-TGACGGGCGGTGTGTACAAACCCCG-3′) yielded fragments of the expected size (1.2 kb) from all eight diseased plants and the ICY-positive control. No products were amplified from the symptomless plant by either assay. R16F2n/R16R2 products were subjected to restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis by separate digestion with AluI, HaeIII, HhaI, HinfI, HpaII, MseI, RsaI, Sau3AI, or TaqI endonuclease. Comparison of resulting RFLP patterns with published patterns of other phytoplasmas (2) tentatively identified safflower phyllody (SP) phytoplasma as a member of clover proliferation group 16SrVI, subgroup C. HhaI digests also differentiated SP from ICY phytoplasma, a previously reported subgroup 16SrVI-A strain (3). After sequencing of the 16S rDNA fragment (GenBank Accession No. DQ88948), a BLAST search determined that SP phytoplasma shared closest homology with 16SrVI group members (‘Candidatus Phytoplasma trifolii’) and related strains (4). Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of 16S rDNA sequences revealed SP phytoplasma to be most similar (99.7%) to brinjal little leaf (BLL) phytoplasma (GenBank Accession No. X83431). Analysis of putative restriction sites in 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that SP and BLL shared identical restriction profiles and that both differed from the ‘Ca. Phytoplasma trifolii’ reference strain (GenBank Accession No. AY390261) because of the absence of a single HhaI site and the presence of an additional MseI site. Although safflower phyllody disease has been previously reported in Israel, the associated phytoplasma was classified as a strain of the aster yellows subgroup 16SrI-B (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of safflower as a host of a ‘Ca. Phytoplasma trifolii’-related strain. References: (1) M. Klein. Plant Dis. Rep. 54:735, 1970. (2) I.-M. Lee et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 54:1037, 2004. (3) M. Salehi et al. Plant Dis. 91:625, 2007. (4) K. Wang and C. Hiruki, Phytopathology 91:546, 2001.
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