First Report of Flavescence Dorée-Related Phytoplasma in a Productive Vineyard in Germany
Flavescence dorée (FD) and Bois noir (BN) are the principal grapevine yellows diseases in Europe caused by distinct phytoplasmas: FD by 16SrV phytoplasmas (FDp), BN by Candidatus Phytoplasma solani. FDp is spread epidemically by the introduced Nearctic Deltocephalinae Scaphoideus titanus and is listed as a quarantine pest in the European Union (Regulation (EU) 2019/2072). Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is a common asymptotic host of 16SrV phytoplasmas in Europe and considered the original host of FDp (Malembic-Maher et al. 2020). Palatinate grapevine yellows (PGY) transmitted from alder to grapevine by the Macropsinae Oncopsis alni (Maixner et al. 2000) is not transmissible by S. titanus, unlike isolates transmitted by the autochthonous Deltocephalinae Allygus spp. and the invasive Orientus ishidae (Malembic-Maher et al. 2020). Germany is considered free from FD in grapevine and from its vector. A single case in a nursery in 2014 was eradicated (EPPO 2017). Since S. titanus was detected in 2016 in the neighboring French Region of Alsace, monitoring of FD was carried out in Germany. It was focused on vineyards within a distance of 100 m from stands of alder trees. A geodata-based risk map (Jalke 2020) was used to identify those plots. All symptomatic vines sampled until September 2020 proved to be infected by BN or, occasionally, by PGY. Eight vines with typical symptoms were sampled in vineyards adjacent to alder stands in the winegrowing region of Rheinhessen in September 2020. Symptoms comprised leaf rolling and discoloration, incomplete lignification, black pustules on shoots, dried inflorescences and shriveled berries. Diseased shoots were black and necrotic in December. Leaf midribs were sampled for total DNA extraction. The phytoplasma 16S rRNA gene was amplified by generic primers R16F2/R2-mod followed by a nested PCR using 16Sr(V) group-specific primers R16(V)F1/R1, and primers R16(I)F1/R1 (Lee et al. 1995) to detect 'Candidatus Phytoplasma solani', associated with BN. While BN was detected in seven vines, one sample tested positive for 16SrV phytoplasma. This result was confirmed by triplex real-time Taq-Man assay based on rpl14 gene sequences (IPADLAB), by multiplex real-time PCR of map locus as well as by Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) according to the EPPO diagnostic standard PM 7/079(2) (EPPO 2016). PCR-products of the map- and the vmpA-Gene (Malembic-Maher et al., 2020) were sequenced and compared to reference sequences to distinguish between FD- and non-FD genotypes. The isolate from the diseased vine exhibited 100% identity with map-M38 (Accession No. LT221933), a genotype of the map-FD2 cluster. The same genotype was detected in A. glutinosa and Allygus spp. sampled at the infested site. A 234 bp sequence of the first repeat of the vmpA-gene showed 100% identity with the S. titanus transmitted isolate FD-92 (Accession No. LN680870) of the vmpA-II cluster. It can be concluded, that the 16SrV-isolate detected in a symptomatic grapevine is infected by FD and not PGY. This is the first report of FD in a vineyard in Germany. The infected vine of cv. Silvaner was 25 years old. While infected planting material is an unlikely source of the infection, a transmission of FDp from alder is highly probable. Finding a single FD-infection after several years of testing implies a low risk originating from the wild compartment, but the approach of the vector S. titanus justifies further monitoring activities. The infected vine was eradicated.