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Comparative Investigation of MLOs Associated with Caribbean and African. Coconut Lethal Decline Diseases by DNA Hybridization and PCR Assays. N. A. HARRISON, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, IFAS, 3205 College Ave., Fort Lauderdale 33314. P. A. RICHARDSON, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, IFAS, 3205 College Ave., Fort Lauderdale 33314; P. JONES and A. M. TYMON, Department of Plant Pathology, Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, Herts., AL5 2.IQ, England; S. J. EDEN-GREEN, Natural Resources Institute, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TB, England; and A. A. MPUNAMI, National Coconut Development Programme, P.O. Box 6626, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Plant Dis. 78:507-511. Accepted for publication 3 February 1994. Copyright 1994 The American Phytopathological Society. DOI: 10.1094/PD-78-0507.

Mycoplasmalike organisms (MLOs) associated with lethal decline diseases of the coconut palm (Cocos nuciferd) in eastern and western Africa were detected by dot hybridizations using (32P)dATP-labeled cloned DNA probes. Two probes, each consisting of a genomic DNA fragment of the palm lethal yellowing (LY) MLO from Florida, hybridized at moderate stringency to DNAs from four coconut cultivars with lethal disease (LD) in Tanzania and from a solitary West African Tall coconut palm with symptoms of Awka disease in Nigeria. Neither probe hybridized to DNA of the LD-affected hybrid coconut PBI2I or to DNA of symptomless palms. Conserved, mollicute-specific oligonucleotide sequences used for polymerase chain reactions (PCR) primed the amplification of near full-length MLO I6S rRNA genes from all decline-affected palms. No restriction fragment length polymorphisms were observed when rDNA amplified from both LY- and LD-affected coconut palms were singly digested with the restriction endonucieases Alul, BamHI, Oral, EcoRI, Hpal, Hpall, Rsal, and Scal. Polymorphisms were evident after digestion of MLO rDNA with Taql. These data establish the existence of genetic relationships between MLOs associated with coconut lethal decline diseases in the western Caribbean region and in Africa and provide further evidence indicating that the LY and LD MLOs, although very similar, are not genetically identical pathogens.