Putting ‘X’ into context: the diversity of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’ strains associated with the induction of X-disease

Molnar et al. (2024). Plant Disease
Names (1)
Ca. Phytoplasma pruni
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
Recurrent epiphytotics of X-disease, caused by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’, have inflicted significant losses on commercial cherry and peach production across North America in the last century. During this period, there have been multiple studies reporting different disease phenotypes, and more recently, identifying different strains through sequencing core genes, but the symptoms have not, to date, been linked with genotype. Therefore, in this study we collected and assessed differing disease phenotypes from multiple U.S. states and conducted multi-locus sequence analysis on these strains. We identified a total of five lineages associated with the induction of X-disease on commercial Prunus species and two lineages that were associated with wild P. virginiana. Despite a century of interstate plant movement, there were regional trends in terms of lineages present, and lineage-specific symptoms were observed on P. avium, P. cerasus, and P. virginiana, but not on P. persica. Cumulatively, these data have allowed us to define ‘true’ X-disease-inducing strains of concern to the stone fruit industry across North America, as well as potential sources of infection that exist in the extra-orchard environment.
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