Symptoms of coffee leaf scorch (CLS) appear on young flushes of field plants as large marginal and apical scorched areas on recently mature leaves. Affected leaves drop, shoot growth is stunted, and apical leaves are small and chlorotic. Symptoms may progress to shoot dieback. Only scorched leaves which could not be related to other known agents consistently contained bacteria and bacterial agglomerates when observed with light microscopy. Only plants with these symptoms were positive in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests using antiserum to Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al. The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al. was isolated in November 1995 from coffee (Coffea arabica) leaves with scorch symptoms on supplemented periwinkle wilt medium. Colonies were circular, dome-shaped, white, and 0.5 to 1.5 mm in diameter. Two of 10 young coffee seedlings stem-inoculated with a suspension of the isolated X. fastidiosa in January 1996 showed leaf scorch symptoms 3 to 5 months later, contained bacteria in xylem extracts, and reacted positively in ELISA using antiserum to the citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) strain of X. fastidiosa. ELISA-positive bacteria were reisolated from this plant. None of the symptomless plants, including controls, revealed bacteria on microscopic examinations, ELISA, or isolation attempts. Antisera developed against cultured bacteria from both CLS and CVC plants reacted positively against plant extracts of both diseases in dot immunobinding assays (DIBA). The level of detection was about 5 × 105 bacteria ml-1 for both homologous and heterologous reactions. The polymerase chain reaction amplification products produced by CLS and CVC strains of X. fastidiosa were indistinguishable. Geographical distribution of these strains is not the same. CLS is widespread and usually occurs if coffee is adjacent to CVC-affected citrus. However, CVC does not always occur when citrus is grown adjacent to CLS-affected coffee. The bacteria are closely related, if not identical.
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