Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Detection and differentiation of phytoplasmas in Australia: an update

B. Schneider, A. Padovan, S. De La Rue, R. Eichner, R. Davis, A. Bernuetz and K. Gibb

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 50(3) 333 - 342
Published: 1999


Phytoplasmas were found in 33 plant species that were not described as host plants in an earlier Australian survey. Plants displayed characteristic symptoms of little leaf, proliferation, and floral abnormalities. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis revealed 13 different restriction patterns. The majority of phytoplasmas showed a restriction pattern identical to that of either the tomato big bud (TBB) or sweet potato little leaf V4 (SPLL-V4) phytoplasma. Phytoplasmas from 6 plant species showed a restriction pattern similar to that of the pigeonpea little leaf (PLL) phytoplasma. One phytoplasma from garden bean displayed a restriction pattern identical to that found in papaya dieback and Australian grapevine yellows (AGY) phytoplasmas. Seven new restriction fragment patterns have been detected and sequence analysis of the 16S/23S spacer region revealed that 3 of these phytoplasmas are related to the faba bean phyllody (FBP) group. The spacer region of a graminaceous phytoplasma was most similar to phytoplasmas from the sugarcane white leaf group. Another graminaceous phytoplasma was identical to a phytoplasma from Indonesia. The spacer region of a phytoplasma from poinsettia (PoiBI) was identical to the western X-disease phytoplasma from North America and Europe. The spacer region of a phytoplasma in stylosanthes contained no tRNAIle. Full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences from selected new phytoplasmas were determined to corroborate results obtained from the spacer region analyses. Three of these phytoplasmas (galactia little leaf, vigna little leaf, and stylosanthes little leaf) are, along with the PoiBI phytoplasma and the graminaceous phytoplasmas, members of phytoplasma groups that have not been reported before in Australia.

Keywords: 16S rRNA, polymerase chain reaction, little leaf, yellows, witches’ -broom.

© CSIRO 1999

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