Istituto di Patologia Vegetale, Università di Napoli ‘Federico II’, I-80055 Portici (Napoli), Italy
Biologische Bundesanstalt für Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Institut für Pflanzenschutz im Obstbau, D-69221 Dossenheim, Germany
Bermuda grass showing symptoms of a white leaf disease has been observed in fruit orchards, vegetable fields, and uncultivated areas in the Latium and Campania regions of central and southern Italy. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification with phytoplasma-specific primers, all symptomatic plants tested positively; whereas no amplification product was obtained from nonsymptomatic plants. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of the PCR-amplified ribosomal DNA revealed a uniform pattern that was similar to that of the Bermuda grass white leaf phytoplasma collected in Thailand, which is known to be a member of the sugarcane white leaf phytoplasma group. By RFLP analysis, the phytoplasma infecting Bermuda grass could be distinguished from other group members, including the phytoplasmas associated with sugarcane white leaf and Brachiaria white leaf. This is the first report on the presence of the Bermuda grass white leaf phytoplasma in Europe.