Witches’ broom disease of lime (WBDL), caused by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia’, is a very serious disease of acid limes. The disease destroyed more than one million lime trees in the Middle East. WBDL results in the production of small, clustered leaves in some branches of lime trees. Branches develop symptoms with time and become unproductive, until the whole tree collapses within 4–8 years of first symptom appearance. This study was conducted to investigate differences in minerals between symptomatic and asymptomatic leaves of infected lime trees. The study included one set of leaves from uninfected trees and two sets of infected leaves: symptomatic leaves and asymptomatic leaves obtained from randomly selected acid lime trees. Nested polymerase chain reaction detected phytoplasma in the symptomatic and asymptomatic leaves from the six infected trees, but not from the uninfected trees. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all phytoplasmas belong to the 16S rRNA group II-B. Mineral analysis revealed that the level of Na significantly increased by four times in the symptomatic leaves compared to the non-symptomatic leaves and to the uninfected leaves. In addition, symptom development resulted in a significant increase in the levels of P and K by 1.6 and 1.5 times, respectively, and a significant decrease in the levels of Ca and B by 1.2 and 1.8 times, respectively. There was no significant effect of WBDL on the levels of N, Cu, Zn, and Fe. The development of witches’ broom disease symptoms was found to be associated with changes in some minerals. The study discusses factors and consequences of changes in the mineral content of acid limes infected by phytoplasma.
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