During the summer of 2012, soybean plants in a commercial field in Clinton County, Michigan, exhibited symptoms characteristic of phytoplasmal diseases (1,2). Symptoms included extensive top dieback, stunting, purple stem surfaces, internal necrosis, leaf vein discoloration, and bud proliferation. Approximately 80% of plants in a half hectare along the southern edge of the field were symptomatic, although the majority of plants in the 4-ha field appeared symptomless. Total genomic DNA was extracted from one symptomatic and one asymptomatic leaf sample using a Qiagen DNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, Germantown, MD) according to manufacturer's instructions. The DNA was used as template in direct PCR primed by the phytoplasma-universal primers P1/P7 followed by nested PCR primed by P1/AYint (3). Reactions containing template DNA from the symptomatic plant yielded ribosomal RNA gene amplicons of 1.8 kbp (P1/P7-primed) and 1.6 kbp (P1/AYint-primed), respectively. Reactions containing template DNA from the asymptomatic plant or water did not yield amplicons. The products of PCRs primed by P1/P7 were purified using PureLink PCR Purification kit (Life Technologies, Carlsbad, CA) and cloned in a pGem T-Easy vector system (Promega, Madison, WI). Three separate clones were sequenced using the sequencing primers M13For, M13Rev, SAYF nt 755, (5′-AAAGCGTGGGGAGCAAACAG), and SAYR nt 1159, (5′-TTTGACGTCGTCCCCACCTT). The sequences of all three clones were identical. A consensus (Sequencher 4.1, Gene Codes Corporation, Ann Arbor, MI) nucleotide sequence of 1,830 bp was deposited in GenBank under the accession number KF528320. A BLASTn similarity search revealed that the sequence shared 100% identity to rDNA of aster yellows phytoplasma (AF222063). Additionally, analysis of the 16Sr group/subgroup classification, based on in silico RFLP analyses using iPhyClassifier (4), indicated that the soybean phytoplasma is a member of subgroup 16SrI-B aster yellows phytoplasma subgroup. In a phylogenic tree deduced using the neighbor joining algorithm, the phytoplasma consensus sequence obtained from soybean in Michigan clustered with other group 16SrI (aster yellows phytoplasma) strains. While aster yellows phytoplasma has been previously reported in soybean in Wisconsin (2), to our knowledge, this is the first report of aster yellows in soybean in Michigan.
References: (1) C. R. Grau et al. Compendium of Soybean Diseases, 4th ed. G. L. Hartman et al., eds. American Phytopathological Society, St. Paul, MN, 1999. (2) M. E. Lee et al. Can. J. Plant Pathol. 24:125, 2002. (3) C. D. Smart et al. Appl. Env. Microbiol. 62:2988, 1996. (4) Y. Zhao et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 59:2582, 2009.
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