FIRST REPORT OF ‘CANDIDATUS PHYTOPLASMA PRUNORUM’ INFECTING APRICOTS IN TUNISIA
M. Ben Khalifa, M. Aldaghi, H. Hacheche, J. Kummert, M. Marrakchi, H. Fakhfakh
‘Candidatus Phytoplasma prunorum’ was detected for the first time in Tunisia in apricot trees that showed early leaf reddening in autumn, off-season growth in winter followed by dieback, and bore small and tasteless fruits. Phytoplasma was detected by nested PCR using the universal phytoplasma primer pairs R16mF2/R1 and R16F2n/R2. An amplification product of the expected size (1.2 kbp) was obtained from samples collected from symptomatic but not from symptomless apricot trees. Amplicons subjected to RFLP analysis after digestion with endonucleases MseI and RsaI, gave patterns similar to those reported for the European stone fruit yellows phytoplasma (ESFY, 16SrX-B). Identification was further confirmed by PCR using ESFY-specific primer pairs (ECA1/ECA2).