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Dianthus barbatus—A New Host of Stolbur Phytoplasma in Serbia

    Authors and Affiliations
    • D. Josic , Institute of Soil Science, Genetic Lab, Belgrade, Serbia
    • M. Starović , Institute for Plant Protection and Environment, Plant Pathology, Belgrade, Serbia
    • S. Kojic , Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
    • R. Pivic
    • A. Stanojkovic-Sebic , Institute of Soil Science, Belgrade, Serbia
    • M. Zdravkovic , Institute for Vegetable Crops, Smederevska Palanka, Serbia
    • S. Pavlovic , Belgrade, Serbia. This research was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, Project III46007.

      Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus, Caryophyllaceae) is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant native to southern Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Carpathians and the Balkans. During the summers of 2012 and 2013, phytoplasma-like symptoms were observed on D. barbatus plants on a Serbian plantation (Pancevo, 44°51′49″ N, 20°39′33″ E, 80 m ASL). Only seven symptomatic plants were observed in the summer of 2012. Disease incidence in 2013 was estimated to be less than 1% but increased during 2014 to 4%. Affected plants, showing symptoms of leaf reddening, malformation, and proliferation; flower bud deficiency; and abnormal shoot production, were tested for phytoplasmas. Samples were collected from seven symptomatic and three symptomless plants each year (20 samples), and total nucleic acid was extracted from midrib tissue using a method that includes a phytoplasma enrichment step and DNA purification by chloroform/phenol (3). Oligonucleotide primers specific to the phytoplasma 16S to 23S rRNA intergenic spacer region were used in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays on DNA extracted from Sweet William plants (1,3). Using phytoplasma universal primer pairs P1/P7 and P1/16S-Sr, phytoplasma-specific 1.8- and 1.5-kb amplicons were obtained from four and six symptomatic plants collected in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Nested PCR with R16F2n/R2 primers yielded ~1.2-kb amplicons from DNAs of all symptomatic plants (1). No amplicon was generated in PCRs conducted with DNA templates from symptomless plants. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of amplified 1.2-kb fragments was performed using four endonucleases (AluI, Tru1I, HhaI, and HpaII). Comparative analysis was done using RFLP patterns of Stolbur (Stol), Aster Yellows (AY), Flavescence Doree-C (FD-C), Poinsettia Branch-Inducing (PoiBI), and Clover Yellow Edge (CYE) phytoplasmas. PCR-RFLP patterns from tested samples were identical to those of the Stol reference strain, indicating that diseased Sweet William was affected by phytoplasma belonging to the 16SrXII-A (Stolbur) group. The sequence of a 1.2-kb rDNA PCR product derived from sample Tk9 (deposited under accession number KM401436 in NCBI GenBank) showed the closest identity (100%) to those of Bulgarian corn (KF907506.1), Iranian ‘Bois Noir’ (KJ637208.1), and two Serbian phytoplasmas (KJ174507.1 from Calendula officinalis and KF614623.1 from Paeonia tenuifolia), all belonging to the ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ Stolbur subgroup. Previously, Aster Yellows Phytoplasma (16SrI) had been detected in two Dianthus species: D. barbatus (Sweet William) and D. caryophyllus (carnation) (2). This is the first record of the 16SrXII-A phytoplasma subgroup being associated with yellowing and reddening of D. barbatus in Serbia. The Stolbur phytoplasma occurrence on Sweet William is significant for the management of the disease in Serbia.

      References: (1) I. M. Lee et al. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 48:1153, 1998. (2) P. Northover et al. http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/afs/MAC_proceedings/proceedings/ 2007/Philip_Northover.pdf, 2007. (3) J. P. Prince et al. Phytopathology 83:1130, 1993.