Infection biology of Moniliophthora perniciosa on Theobroma cacao and alternate solanaceous hosts

Jean Philippe Marelli, Siela N. Maximova, Karina P. Gramacho, Seogchan Kang, Mark John Guiltinan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The C-biotype of Moniliophthora perniciosa is the causal agent of witches' broom disease of Theobroma cacao L. While this disease is of major economic importance, the pathogenicity mechanisms and plant responses underlying the disease are difficult to study given the cacao tree's long life cycle and the limited availability of genetic and genomic resources for this system. The S-biotype of M. perniciosa infects as compared to cacao. A phylogenetic analysis performed in this study demonstrated that S-biotype strains clustered with C-biotype strains, indicating that these biotypes are not genetically distinct. A comparative analysis demonstrated that disease progression in tomato infected with the S- biotype is similar to that described for cacao infected with the C- biotype. The major symptoms observed in both systems are swelling of the infected shoots and activation and proliferation of axillary meristems. Cellular changes observed in infected tissues correspond to an increase in cell size and numbers of xylem vessels and phloem parenchyma along the infected stem. Observations revealed that fungal colonization is biotrophic during the first phase of infection, with appearance of calcium oxalate crystals in close association with hyphal growth. In summary, despite different host specificity, both biotypes of M. perniciosa exhibit similar disease-related characteristics, indicating a degree of conservation of pathogenicity mechanisms between the two biotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-160
Number of pages12
JournalTropical Plant Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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