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A Set of Novel RNAs Transcribed from the Chloroplast Genome Accumulates in Date Palm Leaflets Affected by Brittle Leaf Disease

March 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  3
Pages  337 - 344

J. Marqués, Z. G. N. Fadda, N. Duran-Vila, R. Flores, J. M. Bové, and J. A. Daròs

First, second, fourth, and sixth authors: Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas (CSIC-Universidad Politécnica de Valencia), 46022 Valencia, Spain; first, second, and third authors: Departamento de Protección Vegetal y Biotecnología, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias, 46113 Moncada (Valencia), Spain; and fifth author: Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire et Molleculaire, INRA and University Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, F-33883 Villenave d'Ornon, France.

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Accepted for publication 5 November 2007.

Brittle leaf disease or maladie des feuilles cassantes (MFC) is a lethal disorder of date palms that has assumed epidemic proportions in the oases of southern Tunisia. After a prolonged period during which palms are declining, the disease ends with the death of the palms. Whereas no pathogen could ever be associated with the disease, leaflets of affected palms have been previously shown to be deficient in manganese. Analysis of RNA preparations from leaflets of MFC-affected palms revealed the presence of a set of novel RNAs (MFC-RNAs) of sense and antisense polarities, which are homologous to various regions of the date palm chloroplast genome, such as the regions containing genes rrn5S-trnR(ACG) and trnM(CAU)-atpE. In the RNA preparations obtained from leaflets of affected palms, some of these RNAs are present as double-stranded species (MFC-dsRNAs), as witnessed by results from cellulose chromatography, end labeling, RNase digestion, and northern hybridization with strand specific probes. These MFC-RNAs represent a novel type of host-derived RNAs, and their presence in MFC-affected date palms is of diagnostic value.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society