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An Analysis of the Genomic Variability of the Phytopathogenic Mollicute Spiroplasma kunkelii

February 2013 , Volume 103 , Number  2
Pages  129 - 134

Pablo Carpane, Ulrich Melcher, Astri Wayadande, María de la Paz Gimenez Pecci, Graciela Laguna, William Dolezal, and Jacqueline Fletcher

First, third, and seventh authors: Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University; second author: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oklahoma State University; fourth and fifth authors: Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias–Instituto de Fitopatología y Fisiología Vegetal (INTA-IFFIVE), Córdoba, Argentina; and sixth author: Pioneer Hi-Bred, Johnston, IA.

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Accepted for publication 18 September 2012.

Corn stunt disease has become a factor limiting maize production in some areas of the Americas in recent years. Although resistant maize genotypes have been developed in the past, this resistance has been unstable over time or in some geographical locations. To better understand disease components that could affect the stability of host resistance, we assessed the genome variability of the etiologic agent, Spiroplasma kunkelii. Isolates were obtained from a number of areas, and characterized molecularly by amplification of several regions of the spiroplasma chromosome and sequencing of specific gene fragments. The degree of polymorphism between isolates of different geographic origins was low, and the level of genomic variability was similar within isolates of different countries. Polymorphism among isolates was found in viral insertions and in the sequence of Skarp, a gene that encodes a membrane protein implicated in attachment to insect cells. The results suggest that the genome composition of this species is highly conserved among isolates. Hence, it is unlikely that the instability of maize resistance is due to generation of new pathotypes of S. kunkelii. Instead, other components of this complex pathosystem could account for the breakdown of resistance.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society