First report on the association of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’ with lethal wilt disease of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in India

Abstract

Lethal wilt disease of coconut, reported as a disease of unknown etiology as early as 2007, was for the first time found consistently in association with a phytoplasma in diseased coconut trees in Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Pudukkottai districts in Tamil Nadu on the southeastern coast of India. Nested PCR with phytoplasma-specific universal primers and in silico restriction analysis of 16S rDNA sequences revealed the association of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’ (16SrI-B) group phytoplasma, which was confirmed by sequence analysis of translation elongation factor (tuf) and ribosomal protein (rp) genes. Because this disease kills affected palms within 5 months, recommendations are given to arrest the spread of the pathogen to other coconut-growing regions in the country.

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Data availability

The nucleotide sequence data reported are available in the GenBank database under accessions KY814724, MK617534, MK614890, MT108188, MK614889 and MT090178.

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Acknowledgements

Authors thank ICAR, New Delhi for the approval of a Grant in aid through the Institute Research Project, Dr. P. Chowdappa, former Director, ICAR-CPCRI, Kasaragod for the support extended during the study and Dr. B. Rajendran, Former Professor and Head, Coconut Research Station, TNAU, Veppankulam for the technical support extended during the survey programme. The authors wholeheartedly thank the anonymous reviewers whose suggestions had vastly improved the technical content and quality of manuscript.

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Correspondence to Merin Babu.

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Babu, M., Thangeswari, S., Josephrajkumar, A. et al. First report on the association of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’ with lethal wilt disease of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in India. J Gen Plant Pathol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10327-020-00970-y

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Keywords

  • Palm phytoplasma
  • 16SrI-B
  • Aster yellows
  • Monocot
  • Tamil Nadu