Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) belongs to the family Solanaceae and is an important vegetable cash crop grown in most parts of Oman. In February 2010, plants showing phyllody symptoms and proliferation of shoots resembling those caused by phytoplasma infection were observed at Khasab, 500 km north of Muscat. Total genomic DNA was extracted from healthy and two symptomatic plants with a modified (CTAB) buffer method (2) and analyzed by direct and nested PCR with universal phytoplasma 16S rDNA primers P1/P7 and R16F2n/ R16R2, respectively. PCR amplifications from all infected plants yielded an expected product of 1.8 kb with P1/P7 primers and a 1.2-kb fragment with nested PCR, while no products were evident with DNA from healthy plants. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) profiles of the 1.2-kb nested PCR products of two eggplant phyllody phytoplasma and five phytoplasma control strains belonging to different groups used as positive control were generated with the restriction endonucleases RsaI, AluI, Tru9I, T-HB8I, and HpaII. The eggplant phytoplasma DNA yielded patterns similar to alfalfa witches'-broom phytoplasma (GenBank Accession No. AF438413) belonging to subgroup 16SrII-D, which has been recorded in Oman (1). The DNA sequence of the 1.8-kb direct PCR product was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. HQ423156). Sequence homology results using BLAST revealed that the eggplant phyllody phytoplasma shared >99% sequence identity with Scaevola witches'-broom phytoplasma (Accession No. AB257291.1), eggplant phyllody phytoplasma (Accession No. FN257482.1), and alfalfa witches'-broom phytoplasma (Accession No. AY169323). The RFLP and BLAST results of 16S rRNA gene sequences confirm that eggplant phyllody phytoplasma is similar to the alfalfa phytoplasma belonging to subgroup 16SrII-D. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a phytoplasma of the 16SrII-D group causing witches'-broom disease on eggplant in Oman.
References: (1) A. J. Khan et al. Phytopathology 92:1038, 2002. (2) M. A. Saghai-Maroof et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 81:8014, 1984.
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