Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are one of the most important crops in China following rice, wheat, and corn. Aster yellows phytoplasma appeared to be widespread in China; it was found to cause diseases on alfalfa, oranges, peaches, periwinkles, bamboo (1), and cactus (4). However, scant information of this pathogen on potatoes is available except for a few short reports published during the 1950s. During the potato disease surveys conducted from 2005 to 2010 in Yunnan and Inner Mongolia, 10 to 35% of potato plants exhibited symptoms of yellowing or purpling of apical leaves, with the top leaves rolling inward and aerial tubers formation. Total DNA was extracted from midveins of leaves and roots of 125 diseased and asymptomatic plants with a DNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, Valencia, CA) according to the manufacturer's instructions. A nested PCR was carried out with the first round primer pair P1/P7 followed by the second round primer pair R16F2n/R16R2 (2,3). A PCR product of approximately 1.2 kb was amplified from diseased plants but not from asymptomatic plants. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns were analyzed by digesting a 1.2-kb product using restriction enzymes AluI, BfaI, BstUI, HhaI, HpaI, KpnI, MseI, and RsaI. Comparing the RFLP patterns with previously published phytoplasma strains (2), aster yellows phytoplasma found on potato plants in Yunnan and Inner Mongolia belong to group I, subgroup B (16SrI-B). The PCR product from P1/P7, diluted 1:30, was amplified by using primer pair P1A/P7A (3) and P1A/16S-SR (3). The nested-PCR products from P1A/P7A and P1A/16S-SR were cloned into pCR8/GW/TOPO vector (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) and sequenced by the Core Lab of the University of Alaska–Fairbanks and GENEWIZ (South Plainfield, NJ). The nucleotide sequence (GenBank Accession No. HQ599228) was analyzed by iPhyClassifier software and had 99.53% sequence identity to the reference strain (GenBank Accession No. M30790) for ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’. The RFLP similarity is identical (coefficient 1.00) to the reference pattern of 16Sr group I, subgroup B (GenBank Accession No. NC_005303). To our knowledge, this is the first report revealing the molecular characteristics of a phytoplasma associated with aster yellows-diseased potatoes in China.
References: (1) H. Cai et al. Plant Prot. 31:38, 2005. (2) I.-M. Lee et al. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 48:1153, 1998. (3) I.-M. Lee et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 54:337, 2004. (4) W. Wei et al. Plant Dis. 91:461, 2007.
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