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Specific Identification of Coconut Tinangaja Viroid for Differential Field Diagnosis of Viroids in Coconut Palm

August 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  8
Pages  774 - 781

R. A. J. Hodgson , G. C. Wall , and J. W. Randles

First and third authors: Department of Crop Protection, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia; and second author:Unibetsedat Guaiian, College of Agriculture and Life Science, Agriculture Experiment Station, Mangilao, Guam 96923

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Accepted for publication 21 March 1998.

Tinangaja is a widespread lethal disease of putative viroid etiology affecting coconut palm on the island of Guam. Determination of its distribution and mode of spread requires a simple and reliable diagnostic procedure that is specific for the associated coconut tinangaja viroid (CTiVd). A method of extracting tissue followed by analytical agarose gel electrophoresis for CTiVd detection has been developed and used to identify the viroid in leaf samples of suspect symptomatic palms growing in the field. Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis showed that the viroid band contained circular molecules that are typical for viroids. Confirmation of the identity of CTiVd and detection of low levels of viroid below the threshold of detection by agarose gel electrophoresis was achieved either by diagnostic oligonucleotide-probe (DOP) hybridization assay or by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with the oligonucleotide probe as one of the two PCR primers. RT-PCR was not substantially more sensitive than DOP-hybridization assay. This procedure also was applicable to coconut cadang-cadang viroid (CCCVd), and oligonucleotide probes designed to be specific for either CTiVd or CCCVd distinguished between these two viroids in coconut leaf extracts. This strategy provides a rapid and specific indexing procedure for the two characterized viroids of coconut palm and will be applicable to further studies on the viroid-like sequences previously reported in tropical monocotyledons.

Additional keywords: viroid indexing .

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society