Flavescence dorée phytoplasma (FDP) titre in two red grapevine cultivars, Barbera and Nebbiolo, was measured over the vegetative seasons of two consecutive years in two vineyards of the Piemonte Region (northwestern Italy), with a double absolute quantification of FDP cells and grapevine DNA in real-time PCR. The relationships of pathogen concentration to cultivar susceptibility and symptom severity were investigated. FDP titre was always higher in cv. Barbera than in cv. Nebbiolo infected vines, and this difference was significant at early and late summer samplings of 2008 and at early summer sampling of 2009. A seasonal trend in FDP concentration (low in spring, high in early summer and intermediate in late summer) was conserved for cvs Barbera and Nebbiolo in both years and vineyards. Considering both cultivars and years from both vineyards, a significant positive correlation between FDP concentration and symptom severity was found in the spring samples. Regarding the FDP strains (-C or -D), no differences in pathogen titres were detected for either cultivar. Similarly, the presence of another grapevine yellows phytoplasma, bois noir, a subgroup 16SrXII-A phytoplasma, in mixed infection with FDP strains had no effect on FDP concentration. These results demonstrate for the first time that grapevine cultivars with different susceptibility to FDP support different pathogen titres.
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