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Surveys reveal a complex association of phytoplasmas and viruses with the blueberry stunt disease on Canadian blueberry farms

Published: April 9th, 2019

Revised: April 9th, 2019

Surveys for phytoplasmas and viruses were conducted during September 2014 and 2015 on highbush blueberry farms in the Région Montérégie, Quebec. Total DNA and RNA were extracted from blueberry bushes showing blueberry stunt (BBS) symptoms and from symptomless blueberry bushes, and utilised as templates for PCR and RT‐PCR assays, respectively. Phytoplasma DNA was amplified with universal phytoplasma primers that target the 16S rRNA, secA and secY genes from 12 out of 40 (30%) plants tested. Based on 16S rRNA, secA and secY gene sequence identity, phylogenetic clustering, actual and in silico RFLP analyses, phytoplasma strains associated with BBS disease in Quebec were identified as ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’‐related strains, closely related to the BBS Michigan phytoplasma strain (16SrI‐E). The secY gene sequence‐based single nucleotide polymorphism analysis revealed that one of the BBS phytoplasma strains associated with a leaf marginal yellowing is a secY‐I RFLP variant of the subgroup 16SrI‐E. Two viruses were detected in blueberry bushes. The Blueberry Red Ringspot Virus (BRRV) was found in a single infection in the cultivar Bluecrop with no apparent typical BRRV symptoms. The Tobacco Ringspot Virus (TRSV) was found singly infecting blueberry plants and co‐infecting a BBS phytoplasma‐infected blueberry cv. Bluecrop plant. This is the first report of TRSV in the cv. Bluecrop in Quebec. The Quebec BBS phytoplasma strain was identified in the leafhopper Graphocephala fennahi, which suggests that G. fennahi may be a potential vector for the BBS phytoplasma. The BBS disease shows a complex aetiology and epidemiology; therefore, prompt actions must be developed to support focused BBS integrated management strategies.

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Molecular and biological characterization of phytoplasmas from coconut palms affected by the lethal yellowing disease in Africa.

Published: April 9th, 2019

Revised: April 9th, 2019

Côte d’Ivoire lethal yellowing (CILY) is a devastating disease associated with phytoplasmas and has recently rapidly spread to several coconut-growing areas in the Country. Phytoplasmas are phloem-restricted bacteria that affect plant species worldwide. These bacteria are transmitted by plant sap-feeding insects, and their cultivation was recently achieved in complex artificial media. In this study, phytoplasmas were isolated for the first time from coconut palm trunk borings in both solid and liquid media from CILY symptom-bearing and symptomless coconut palms. The colony morphology, PCR and sequencing analyses indicated the presence of phytoplasmas from different ribosomal groups. This study reports the first biochemical characterization of two of these phytoplasma isolates. Moreover, a disc-diffusion antibiotic susceptibility assay revealed that these bacteria exhibit tobramycin susceptibility and cephalexin hydrate and rifampicin resistance. Urea and arginine hydrolysis, and glucose fermentation tests that were performed on colonies of phytoplasmas and Acholeplasma laidlawii indicated that both phytoplasmas tested were negative for urea and positive for glucose and arginine, whereas A. laidlawii was positive for glucose and negative for urea and arginine. The growth of coconut phytoplasmas in both solid and liquid artificial media and the biological characterization of these isolates are novel and important advancements in the field of disease management and containment measures for the CILY disease. The characterization of isolated phytoplasmas will allow for more efficient management strategies in both the prevention of a coconut phytoplasma epidemics and the reduction of the economic impact of the disease in the affected areas.


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New Disease Report in collaboration with Brazil

Published: January 28th, 2019

Revised: January 29th, 2019

First report of the identification of a ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’-related strain of phytoplasma in Melothria pendul

In 2017, Sporometics participated in the Canadian AgriTech Mission to Brazil led by Global Affairs Canada and NRC-IRAP. We are pleased to announce Sporometrics’ first collaborative publication with these partnerships can now be read in the journal Plant Pathology.

Sporometrics own plant pathologist expert, Dr. Yaima Arocha-Rosete, along with Dr. Helena Guglielmi Montano of the Entomology and Plant Pathology Department, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), have been working on describing the Guadeloupe cucumber as a new host plant for phytoplamsa infection. In Brazil, photoplasma has already been associated with causing disease in the cassava plant. Identifying new crops as a potential host for phytoplasma infections has been an ongoing concern in the agricultural sector. Across the world, phytoplasma infected crops have left their devastating impact on the agricultural economy. Sporometrics continuing efforts in studying infected coconut crops in the Ivory Cost in addition to these new research opportunities in Brazil may lead us in the right direction to combat plant diseases.

You can read the full publication in Plant Pathology Here

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Sporometrics featured in Spudsmart Magazine

Published: April 11th, 2017

Revised: April 11th, 2017

Sporometrics’ crop sampler (the Spornado) was featured in Spudsmart Magazine the Spring 2017 issue. Eugenia Banks worked with the Potato board during the growing season of 2016 to test the Spornado’s ability to detect late blight.

See the article here>

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PROOF: The Science of Booze

Published: September 29th, 2014

Revised: September 29th, 2014

PROOFIn a follow-up to Adams’ WIRED article “The Angel’s Share”, the Distillation chapter of Proof tells the story of how Sporometrics’ Dr. James Scott found himself studying mycology and delves deeper into the mystery of the whiskey fungus he investigated.

Proof expands upon Adam Rogers’ 2011 WIRED magazine article “The Angel’s Share”; the story of Sporometrics’ Dr. James Scott’s discovery of not just a new species, but a completely new genus of fungi, identified on trees, street signs, and buildings surrounding whiskey warehouses in Lakeshore Ontario, then around distilleries across the globe. The unmasking of the whiskey fungus Baudoinia compniacensis is just one of dozens of tales Rogers tells as he uncovers the science of alcohol production, powered by physics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and a bit of metallurgy-and our taste for the products is a melding of psychology and neurobiology.

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