Phytoplasma vitis

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grapevine plant infected with flavescence dorée
Author: Josef Klement
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Candidatus Phytoplasma vitis (flavescence dorée phytoplasma)

The phytoplasma causes an important grapevine disease in the Mediterranean region which is transmitted by the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus. The symptoms include yellowing, downward curling of the leaves, fruit abortion, necrosis and stunting, and appear about 1 year after a plant becomes infected. The yellowing symptoms depend on the grape cultivar and might be golden yellow to more reddish. The leaves become glossy. The disease is of particular concern in France and Italy. Yield of grapes is strongly reduced and new vines fail to lignify properly.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: goldgelbe Vergilbung der Rebe
• English: flavescence dorée of grapevine
• Español: flavescencia dorada de la vid
• Français: flavescence dorée de la vigne

The phytoplasma lives in the phloem where the vectors feed and acquire the disease. In some areas the vector has spread on average over a distance of 5-10 km per year. The transport of infected plant material is suspected of the main reason for the long distance spread of the disease and its vector.

The disease has been declared a quarantine pest in Europe, requiring control. This involves control of the vector with insecticides as well as uprooting and burning of the diseases vines.

The phytoplasma has been assigned to subgroup C of the 16SrV phytoplasma group.