Flavescence dorée (FD) and Bois noir (BN) phytoplasmas are principal grapevine yellows (GY) agents in the wider Euro-Mediterranean Region. While BN phytoplasma belongs to the ribosomal subgroup 16SrXII-A, the FD agents belong either to the ribosomal subgroups 16SrV-C or -D. During the official GY survey in 2009, 40 symptomatic grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.) were sampled throughout grapevine-growing regions in Croatia. Typical GY symptoms of leaf yellowing or reddening were evident on white and red varieties, respectively. Leaf rolling as well as irregular lignification of the shoots and withering of clusters were also observed. Phloem tissue from cuttings and leaf veins from mature vines were sampled for total DNA extraction and amplification of phytoplasma 16S rRNA gene by using generic primers P1/P7 in a direct PCR assay followed by a nested PCR using primer pair R16F2n/R2 (2). Phytoplasma ribosomal group affiliation was determined by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of the nested PCR products with enzyme Tru1I (Fermentas, Vilnius, Lithuania). These initial findings were validated and augmented by a triplex real-time PCR assay targeting the nonribosomal map gene. This assay enables simultaneous detection of BN and FD (16SrV-C and -D) phytoplasmas in grapevine (3). Assay results revealed the majority of GY positive vines (19 of 40) contained BN phytoplasma which is widespread. For the first time in Croatia, two red variety samples, Pinot Noir and Plemenka Crvena, from the vicinity of Ozalj (Vivodina) and Zagreb (Brezje), respectively, were found to harbor FD-related phytoplasmas. Fragments amplified by P1/P7 primers from latter samples were cloned and sequenced. Sequence analyses using online interactive tool iPhyClassifier (4) revealed that the phytoplasma under study from Pinot Noir sample (GenBank Accession No. HQ712064) is a member of 16SrV-C subgroup and shares 99.87% similarity with 16S rDNA sequence of the reference strain (GenBank Accession No. AF176319). The sequence from the Plemenka Crvena sample (GenBank Accession No. HQ712065) shares 99.54% similarity with the reference strain and has the most similar virtual RFLP pattern to the one of the 16SrV-C subgroup (GenBank Accession No. AY197642). These findings are currently limited to vineyards in northwestern Croatia. Even so, the presence of FD principal cicadellid vector Scaphoideus titanus in the country and the occurrence and distribution of FD in neighboring countries (1,2) are factors indicating that the spread of FD in Croatia is highly probable.
References: (1) L. Filippin et al. Plant Pathol. 58:826, 2009. (2) S. Kuzmanović et al. Vitis 47:105, 2008. (3) C. Pelletier et al. Vitis 48:87, 2009. (4) Y. Zhao et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 59:2582, 2009.
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