Molecular study of two distinct phytoplasma species associated with streak yellows of date palm in Iran.
A disease with symptoms similar to palm lethal yellowing was noticed in the early 2013 in Khuzestan Province (Iran) in date palm (Phoenix dactylifera). Infected trees displaying symptoms of streak yellows and varied in the incidence and severity of yellowing. A study was initiated to determine whether phytoplasma was the causal agent. Polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) methods using universal phytoplasma primers pairs R16 mF1/mR1 and M1/M2 were employed to detect putative phytoplasma(s) associated with date palm trees. Nested PCR using universal primers revealed that 40 out of 53 trees were positive for phytoplasma while asymptomatic date palms from another location (controls) tested negative. RFLP analyses and DNA sequencing of 16S rDNA indicated that the presence of two different phytoplasmas most closely related to clover proliferation (CP) phytoplasma (group 16SrVI) and ash yellows (AY) phytoplasma (group 16SrVII). Sequence analysis confirmed that palm streak yellows phytoplasmas in each group were uniform and to be phylogenetically closest to "Candidatus P. fraxini" (MF374755) and "Ca. P. trifolii" isolate Rus-CP361Fc1 (KX773529). Result of RFLP analysis of secA gene of positive samples using TruI and TaqI endonuclease is in agreement with rDNA analysis. On this basis, both strains were classified as members of subgroups 16SrVI-A and 16SrVII-A. This is the first report of a phytoplasma related to CP and AY phytoplasma causing date palm yellows disease symptoms.