C. Marcone, M.G. Bellardi, A. Bertaccini
doi: 10.4454/JPP.V98I3.060
Medicinal and aromatic plants include a broad array of wild and cultivated plants which contain many biologically-active compounds, known as phytochemicals, that are of great interest for their ability to promote human and animal health. The present review provides a literature overview of phytoplasma diseases affecting medicinal and aromatic plants, with an emphasis on phytoplasma taxa associated. An overview of studies that examined the effect of phytoplasma infections on phytochemical content and other secondary metabolites of affected plants is also included. Phytoplasma diseases of medicinal and aromatic plants occur worldwide; however, the majority of reports are from Europe and southeastern Asian countries. These diseases affect plant species belonging to over 70 families, mostly to Apiaceae and Asteraceae. They differ considerably in geographic distribution and size of the various taxonomic groups and subgroups of the associated phytoplasmas. Subgroup 16SrI-B phytoplasmas are the prevalent agents occurring mainly in Europe, North America and Asia. Phytoplasma presence induces changes in the amount and composition of secondary metabolites in diseased plants in which, however, the concentrations of valuable phytochemicals are greatly affected. An exception is represented by phytoplasma diseases of periwinkle in which an accumulation of pharmaceutically important compounds occurs upon phytoplasma infections. Prospects for future research are identified and critically discussed as well.