Evaluation of leaf nutrient changes in Mexican lime (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) ‎during the progression of witches’ broom disease of lime (WBDL)‎

Document Type : Full Paper


1 Assistant Professor, Citrus and Subtropical Fruit Research Centre, Horticultural Science Research Institute, Agricultural Research, ‎Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Ramsar, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Citrus and Subtropical Fruit Research Centre, Horticultural Science Research Institute, Agricultural Research, ‎Education and Extension Organization (AREEO), Ramsar, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Mazandaran Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Center, Agricultural Research, Education and ‎Extension Organization (AREEO), Sari, Iran


Witches’ broom disease of lime (WBDL), caused by ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia’, is major limiting factor for Mexican lime (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) production in southern Iran. In this investigation, leaf nutrient profiling of the healthy and infected rooted Mexican lime during WBDL progression (90-330 days) as well as to distinguish the infected from the healthy Mexican limes under greenhouse condition. For this aim, the healthy and infected plants were sampled 90, 150, 210, 270 and 330 days after inoculation with phytoplasma and leaf nutrient concentrations including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, boron, iron, manganese, zinc and copper were measured during WBDL progression. The results showed phytoplasmal infection mostly caused to a marked decrease in the concentration of nitrogen, calcium, boron, manganese, and significant increase in phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc in the infected leaves. In Mexican lime leaves, copper concentration did not significantly change after inoculation with phytoplasma with respect to the healthy plants. In addition, the principal components analysis (PCA) based on the concentration of nutrients could not distinction infected and healthy plants in the early stages of sampling (before the appearance of symptoms), but PCA revealed a clear distinction between the leaf nutritional profiles of healthy and infected plants after the appearance of symptoms during the progression of WBDL. In conclusion, this study provides new insights into the lime response to phytoplasma infection during the progression of WBDL and it can be useful in adopting strategies to improve and increase the economic efficiency of trees infected with WBDL.


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