Authors:H. Mahmoudi, M. Salari, M. Ghayeb Zamharir and M. Ghorbani
A safflower disease was observed in the fields of South Khorasan (Iran) in 2017–2018. Affected plants had extensive fasciation, bushy growth, small leaves, phyllody and shortened internodes. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays were performed using universal phytoplasma primers pairs P1/P7, R16mF1/mR1 and M1/M2 to detect putative phytoplasma (s). Nested PCR analyses showed that all symptomatic plants were positive for phytoplasma infection, while asymptomatic plants were negative. Nucleotide sequence analysis and RFLP analyses of PCR-amplified 16S rDNA sequences indicated that safflower fasciation in Iran was associated with a phytoplasma that belonged to the peanut witches' broom group (16SrII). Phylogenetic analysis confirmed that safflowers fasciation phytoplasma (SaP) must be classified in ‘Candidatus phytoplasma aurantifolia’ (16SrII) taxonomic group. To our knowledge, this is the first documentation of a phytoplasma associated with safflower fasciation in Iran and the world.