FIRST REPORT OF CHRYSANTHEMUM STUNT VIROID IN ARGYRANTHEMUM FRUTESCENS IN ITALY
E.M. Torchetti, B. Navarro, V.N. Trisciuzzi, L. Nuccitelli, M.R. Silletti, F. Di Serio
Chrysanthemum stunt viroid (CSVd) is a quarantine pathogen for chrysanthemum (Dendranthema spp.) in the European countries (Plant Health Directive 2000/29/EC), because this host is severely affected, thus comes down with a disease characterized by stunting, leaf chlorosis and floral disorders. CSVd spread in Europe has efficiently been restrained so far, although several outbreaks were recorded in the past. Here we report the first occurrence of CSVd in Italy, as detected in several symptomless cultivars of Argyranthemum frutescens (marguerite daisy) by RT-PCR with specific primers and by Northern blot hybridization with a specific digoxigenin-labeled riboprobe. Viroid identity was ultimately ascertained by cloning and sequencing cDNA amplicons. Molecular characterization of CSVd isolates from six different A. frutescens cultivars disclosed viroid RNA populations with a prevalent size of 354 nt and sequences 98-100% identical to those of CSVd variants reported previously from D. grandiflora and A. frutescens. These results call for a prompt extension of surveys for assessing the presence of CSVd in symptomless A. frutescens and other ornamentals, which could constitute hidden reservoirs of this pathogen. In view of this, a tissue-printing hybridization method for detecting CSVd in A. frutescens was tested and validated.