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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #286954

Title: Phytoplasma infection in prized linden cultivar Tilia platyphyllos “Laciniata”: Is “Laciniata” a valid cultivar?

item JOMANTIENE, RASA - Nature Research Centre
item STANIULIS, JUOZAS - Nature Research Centre
item Davis, Robert

Submitted to: Journal of Plant Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/6/2012
Publication Date: 8/2/2013
Citation: Jomantiene, R., Staniulis, J., Davis, R.E. 2013. Phytoplasma infection in prized linden cultivar Tilia platyphyllos “Laciniata”: Is “Laciniata” a valid cultivar? . Journal of Plant Pathology. 95:391-393.

Interpretive Summary: Many damaging diseases of plants, including agricultural crops, forest trees, and ornamentals, are caused by minute bacteria called phytoplasmas. In a few cases, such as strawberry and poinsettia, a plant species or a plant variety that is recognized by unusual leaf shape or branching pattern has been found not to be a botanical variety or species, but instead to be a known species or variety that has abnormal features caused by infection by a phytoplasma. In the present work, we found that the prized ornamental tree, Tilia platyphyllos “Laciniata” in Lithuania was infected by either of two different phytoplasmas. We detected, identified, and characterized the phytoplasmas through analysis of three different phytoplasma genes. The results encourage efforts to distinguish genetic “Laciniata” cultivars from possibly phytoplasma-infected trees. The findings will be of interest to scientists, arboriculturists, nursery managers, and landscapers considering use of T. platyphyllos “Laciniata” in their work.

Technical Abstract: Linden (Tilia platyphyllos ‘Laciniata’) trees growing in Kaunas Botanical Garden and in the parks of Verkiu (Vilnius) and Belvederis estates in Lithuania exhibited laciniated, deformed leaves and yellowing of veins. These trees had been planted in the parks, for the beauty of their “cut-out-elongated leaves”, as a new variety of linden. However, use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), primed by phytoplasma universal primer pairs to amplify 16S rRNA gene sequences, followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis, revealed that these linden trees were infected by phytoplasma strains belonging to subgroup 16SrI-B and to a new subgroup designated 16SrI-V, in the ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’ group of wall-less bacteria. The strains were further characterized by ribosomal protein gene sequence analysis. The experimental results have rekindled discussion of the possibility that a prized cultivar displaying unusual morphotype might be an invalid taxon. Is linden with laciniate-leaved branches a valid taxon (variety, cultivar) or simply a plant that has abnormal leaf morphotype caused by infection with a tiny wall-less bacterium?