In 2009, Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) Ait. plants showing virus-like symptoms were observed in two ornamental greenhouses in two regions of the eastern coast of Spain (Tarragona and Valencia). Affected plants showed veinal yellowing and interveinal yellow mottling on the leaves. In addition, surveys conducted in 2010 in three public gardens in Valencia revealed 4% of P. tobira plants grown as hedges showed similar, but less severe symptoms. Five symptomatic and five asymptomatic P. tobira leaves were collected and analyzed by double antibody sandwich-ELISA using polyclonal antisera for Alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) (SEDIAG S.A.S., Longvic, France) and Eggplant mottled dwarf virus (EMDV) (Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen Gmbh [DSMZ], Braunschweig, Germany). Samples were considered positive only if the mean absorbance value of duplicate wells was more than three times the mean absorbance of healthy control leaf samples. Only the five symptomatic samples tested positive for EMDV in the serological analyses. To confirm the results, a pair of EMDV-specific primers was designed using the published sequence of a fragment of the EMDV polymerase gene available in GenBank (Accession No. AM922322): EMDV-D (5′ TATGCGAGAATTGGGAGTGGGTAGT 3′) and EMDV-R (5′ CATTGTTATCCCGGGAAGTATTT 3′) targeting a 400-bp fragment. Total RNA was extracted from the symptomatic leaves and tested by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR assay with specific primers for AMV (4) and the primer pair designed for EMDV. The type isolate (EMDV-PV-0031, DSMZ) was used as a positive control sample in the serological and molecular analyses. None of the samples tested positive for AMV. The same five symptomatic samples that tested positive in the serological assays also tested positive for EMDV in the RT-PCR assay. Two RT-PCR products amplified from RNA of symptomatic P. tobira leaves and one from the type isolate were purified and directly sequenced. BLAST analyses of two sequences from infected P. tobira leaves (Accession Nos. HM636918 and HM636919) revealed 90% nucleotide identity to both the EMDV-Egg isolate (Accession No. AM922322) and the type isolate (EMDV-PV-0031, DSMZ), and 98% similarity among the P. tobira isolates. EMDV was first reported in the Canary Islands, Spain (3), and later was detected in the northeastern peninsular Spain on cucumber and eggplant (1). Although EMDV has been described as affecting P. tobira in countries such as Italy, Libya, and the former Yugoslavia (3), to our knowledge, this is the first report of EMDV infecting P. tobira in Spain. EMDV is generally considered of minor importance. However, P. tobira infection might have epidemiological consequences for susceptible cultivated crops such as eggplant or cucumber. Moreover, where P. tobira is used as a vegetatively propagated ornamental plant, EMDV could be transmitted from infected plants by the leafhopper vector (2).
References: (1) J. Aramburu et al. Plant Pathol. 55:565, 2006. (2) G. H. Babaie and K. Izadpanah. J. Phytopathol. 151:679, 2003. (3) A. A. Brunt et al. Plant Viruses Online: Descriptions and Lists from the VIDE Database. Version: 20. Retrieved from http://biology.anu.edu.au/Groups/MES/vide/, August, 1996. (4) L. Martínez-Priego et al. Plant Dis. 88:908, 2004.
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