Mung bean (Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek) is an important edible legume grown in Asia, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, where it is used for human and animal consumption. In September 2013, 10% of a group of 90 mung bean breeding lines in experimental plots of S. V. Agricultural College, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India, exhibited symptoms typical of a phytoplasma infection, including stunting, extensive proliferation of branches, reduction in leaf size, phyllody, and longitudinal splitting of green pods followed by germination of green seeds producing small plants. These symptoms have been associated with mung bean phyllody (1,3). While the severity of infection varied within each line, on average, 20% of symptomatic plants did not produce seeds at all. Leaf samples from two symptomatic plants and one asymptomatic plant were collected and DNA was extracted from leaves following a CTAB DNA extraction procedure (2). Direct PCR and nested PCR assay was performed using phytoplasma 16S rRNA universal primer pairs P1/P7 and R16F2n/R16R2 (4). Both of the symptomatic samples produced 1.8 kb and 1.2 kb size amplicons after direct and nested PCR cycles, respectively. No amplicons were produced with DNA from the asymptomatic sample. Nested PCR products (1.2 kb) from the two symptomatic samples corresponding to the F2nR2 region of 16S rDNA were directly sequenced on an ABI 3730 XL automated sequencer at McLab sequencing services (McLab, CA). Both samples were 100% identical and the representative sequence was designated as APMBP and deposited in GenBank with the accession number KF811205. BLAST analysis revealed a 100% sequence identity with 16SrII group ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia’ phytoplasmas that include sesame phyllody phytoplasmas isolated from sesame and tomato in India (KF429485 and JX104335, respectively). Subgroup identification was performed using the iPhyClassifier online tool (5). The samples were identified as 16SrII-D subgroup phytoplasma based on their 100% identity to the reference strain (GenBank Accession No. Y10097) and virtual RFLP profiles. Phylogenetic analysis based on the F2nR2 sequences with the representative sequences were placed the APMBP in a single distinct cluster with the 16SrII-D reference strain Y10097. Although occurrence of phyllody on mung bean in India was first reported in 1988 (3), the report was based on the appearance of symptoms. This pathogen was recently reported as associated with mung bean phyllody in Pakistan (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of ‘Ca. P. aurantifolia’ strain infecting mung bean in India. Phytoplasmas belonging to subgroup 16SrII-D are known to have a wide host range, including chickpea, peanuts, sesame, and tomato, which are commonly grown in this region. Mung bean plants infected early failed to produce normal seeds indicating of the potential of this 16SrII-D phytoplasma to become a production constraint for mung bean and other host crops in the area.
References: (1) K. P. Akhtar et al. Plant Pathol. 59:399, 2010. (2) J. J. Doyle and J. L. Doyle. Phytochem. Bull. 19:11, 1987. (3) P. Lakshmanan et al. Curr. Sci. 57:809, 1988. (4) I. M. Lee et al. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 48:1153, 1998. (5) Y. Zhao et al. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 59:2582, 2009.
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