1887

Abstract

Phytoplasmas (‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ species) are phytopathogenic bacteria vectored by insects and are associated with crop diseases that cause severe yield losses by affecting reproductive tissue development. Infection of northern highbush blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum; Ericaceae) with phytoplasma leads to yield losses by altering plant development resulting in stunting and subsequent plant death. Samples collected from symptomatic blueberry plants in two important blueberry-producing areas in Canada, in the provinces of Québec and Nova Scotia, were analysed for the presence of DNA sequences associated with phytoplasma. Analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences demonstrated that the plants were infected with a strain of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’, which was previously identified as blueberry stunt phytoplasma (BBS; 16SrI-E). Examination of further bacterial sequences revealed that two distinct 16S rRNA-encoding gene sequences were present in each sample in combination with a single chaperonin-60 (cpn60) sequence and a single rpoperon sequence, suggesting that this strain displays 16S rRNA-encoding gene sequence heterogeneity. Two distinct rrnoperons, rrnE and the newly described rrnAI, were identified in samples analysed from all geographic locations. We propose, based on the sequences obtained, delineating the new subgroup 16SrI-(E/AI)AI, following the nomenclature proposed for heterogeneous subgroups. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a heterogeneous phytoplasma strain affecting blueberry plants and associated with blueberry stunt disease.

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2018-11-15
2020-01-23
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