During a survey conducted in October 2013 in tomato greenhouses in Diano Marina (Imola Province, northwest Italy), in a single greenhouse, unusual disease symptoms were observed in four out 1,400 (~0.3%) of tomato plants cv. Ingrid, grafted on ‘Beaufort’ rootstock. Symptoms including shortened apical internodes associated with tiny, deformed, and brittle chlorotic leaves, while ripe fruits appeared reduced in size and pale red. Samples of leaves from the four plants were collected and examined using commercial antisera (Bioreba AG, Reinach, Switzerland) by double antibody sandwich (DAS)-ELISA against Tomato spotted wilt virus, Cucumber mosaic virus, Alfalfa mosaic virus, Tomato/Tobacco mosaic viruses, and by indirect plate trapped antigen (PTA)-ELISA against potyviruses (potygroup test). None of the tested viruses were detected in the four leaf samples. In addition, PCR tests for begomoviruses and phytoplasmas were also negative. In a host range study, the original symptoms, consisting mainly of stunting and chlorosis, were reproduced within ~10 days in tomato seedlings (Momor line), mechanically inoculated at two true leaves stage with sap extract obtained from the four symptomatic tomato plants, whereas no symptoms were observed in Chenopodium amaranticolor, C. quinoa, Nicotiana tabacum (cv. Xanthi nc), N. glutinosa, or Phaseolus vulgaris (cv. Borlotto rosso). Total RNAs extracted with the RNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany) from symptomatic samples were tested in RT-PCR using pospiviroids generic primers PSTVd-32/33 (1), designed to amplify the whole genome of Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd), Tomato apical stunt viroid (TASVd), and Columnea latent viroid (CLVd), and CEVd-FW/RE primers, designed to amplify the whole genome of Citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd) and TASVd (3). Each of the four samples yielded amplicons of the same size (364 bp) with both primer combinations. The identity of the viroid was then determined by sequencing, on both strands, amplicons obtained from the four symptomatic plants at MWG (Ebersberg, Germany). Sequences obtained were identical, showing the highest nucleotide identity (99.7%) with the TASVd isolate Sj1 (AM777161), identified in Germany on Solanum jasminoides. The sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. HG916812) and the field isolate named To1-IT. Two other cases of pospiviroid infection in tomato in Italy have been reported so far and the viroid species detected were PSTVd (2) and CLVd (4), respectively. To our knowledge, this is the first report of TASVd infecting tomato in Italy. The origin of this infection is still unclear, although based on the biological properties and sequence similarity, the To1-IT isolate probably originated from an ornamental species, most likely S. jasminoides, as recently reported for other tomato TASVd isolates, according to their biological and genetic features (5).
References: (1) F. Di Serio. J. Plant Pathol. 89:297, 2007. (2) B. Navarro et al. J. Plant Pathol. 91:723, 2009. (3) N. Önelge. Turk. J. Agric. For. 21:419, 1997. (4) G. Parrella et al. Acta Hortic. 914:149, 2011. (5) J. Th. J. Verhoeven et al. Eur. J. Plant Pathol. 133:803, 2012.