First report of Candidatus Phytoplasma australasia (16SrII- subgroup D) associated with virescence of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) from India

Josna et al. (2024). Plant Disease
Names (2)
Ca. Phytoplasma aurantifolia Ca. Phytoplasma australasia
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
Chia (Salvia hispanica L., Lamiaceae) is an important commercial and medicinal crop recently popularized in India and widely cultivated in Karnataka (Joy et al., 2022). During the field survey of chia crop diseases, characteristic virescence like symptoms were observed at Main Agricultural Research Station, UAS, Raichur as well as at Mysuru and HD Kote region. The incidence was ranged from 2 – 4 per cent in an area of 30 hectares. Typical symptoms associated with chia are malformed shoot and/or inflorescence axis with reduced floral parts with greenish florets. The stem axis become thick, flattened, leaves are reduced towards terminal region. A total of five phytoplasma suspected samples and five suspected healthy samples were used for identification purpose. The Plant Genomic DNA Miniprep Kit (Sigma Aldrich, USA) was used to extract the DNA from five symptomatic and five asymptomatic samples and the DNA was used as template to amplify the phytoplasma-specific 16S rDNA gene using P1/P7 primers (Deng and Hiruki, 1991; Schneider et al., 1995) followed by nested PCR using R16F2n/R16R2 primers (Gundersen and Lee 1996). The expected 1.25-kb amplicon was detected from the suspected symptomatic samples. Nested PCR products were purified and sequenced from both the directions using ABIX370 Genetic Analyzer (Applied Biosystems, Waltham, MA). The analysis revealed that all five sequences shared 100 per cent identity with Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia (OM649850, ON975012) and Tomato big bud phytoplasma (EF193359). The in-silico RFLP pattern of F2n/R2 primed region of 16S rDNA gene analyzed by using iPhyClassifier (Zhao et al. 2009) revealed that the sequence shared 98.72 per cent nucleotide sequence similarity with coefficient value of 1.00 to the reference strain RFLP pattern of 16Sr group II, subgroup D (witches'-broom disease of lime; U15442). Based on 16SrDNA sequences and in-silico RFLP analysis, the phytoplasma associated with the chia virescence was identified as a member of 16SrII-D group. Further, SecA gene was also amplified from the samples using SecAfor1/SecArev3 primer pair (Hodgetts et al., 2008). All samples produced ~400 bp products and sequenced as detailed above. Sequence analysis by nBLAST revealed 100 per cent similarity to Ca. P. australasia (MW020545) and Ca. P. aurantifolia isolate Idukki Kerala 1 (MK726369) both representing 16SrII-D group phytoplasma. The representative sequence (16Sr: PP359693, PP359694; secA:PP386558, PP386559) were deposited in GenBank. Chia virescence phytoplasma belonging to Ca. phytoplasma australasia has not been reported anywhere. The phytopathological studies associated with chia crop are very limited. Joy et al. (2022) reported the occurrence of foot rot disease caused by Athelia rolfsii. Several hosts are recorded to be associated with 16SrII D phytoplasma which includes china aster, eggplant and crotalaria (Mahadevakumar et al., 2017, Yadav et al., 2016a, b). Now the wide occurrence of the phytoplasma in the area might have transmitted by vectors. The occurrence of virescence is of great importance as it affects the overall yield which reduces the market value. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a group 16SrII-D phytoplasma associated with chia virescence in India.
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