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Detection and Characterization of an Elm Yellows (16SrV) Group Phytoplasma Infecting Virginia Creeper Plants in Southern Florida

October 2001 , Volume 85 , Number  10
Pages  1,055 - 1,062

N. A. Harrison , University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, Ft. Lauderdale 33314 ; H. M. Griffiths , Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4203 ; and M. L. Carpio and P. A.. Richardson , University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center

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Accepted for publication 12 June 2001.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) employing phytoplasma-specific ribosomal RNA primer pair P1/P7 consistently amplified a product of expected size (1.8 kb) from 29 of 36 symptom-less Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) plants growing in southern Florida. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of P1/P7-primed PCR products indicated that most phytoplasmas detected in Virginia creeper were similar to phytoplasmas composing the elm yellows (16SrV) group. This relationship was verified by reamplification of P1/P7 products using an elm yellows (EY) group-specific rRNA primer pair fB1/rULWS1. rDNA products (1,571 bp) were generated by group-specific PCR from 28 phytoplasma-positive plants and 1 negatively testing plant identified by earlier P1/P7-primed PCR. Analysis of 16S rDNA sequences determined the Virginia creeper (VC) phytoplasma to be phylogenetically closest to the European alder yellows (ALY) agent, an established 16SrV-C subgroup strain. However, presence or absence of restriction sites for endonucleases AluI, BfaI, MspI, RsaI, and TaqI in the 16S rRNA and 16-23S rRNA intergenic spacer region of the VC phytoplasma collectively differentiated this strain from ALY and other 16SrV group phytoplasmas. Failure to detect the VC phytoplasma by PCR employing nonribosomal primer pair FD9f/FD9r suggests that this newly characterized agent varies from known European grapevine yellows (flavescence dorée) phyto-plasmas previously classified as 16SrV subgroup C or D strains.

Additional keywords: phytoplasma identification, Vitaceae

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society