Submitted to: Plant Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Ornamental Hibiscus plants in Brazil are heavily damaged by hibiscus witches' broom disease, which is caused by a pathogen known as the hibiscus witches' broom phytoplasma. This problem, and the possible threat of the disease to Hibiscus wherever it is grown, is compounded by lack of knowledge concerning spread of the disease. Alternate host plants that may harbor the phytoplasma were unknown until the present work. In this work, we investigated plant species other than Hibiscus to determine if they harbor the hibiscus witches' broom phytoplasma in nature and could thus be a source for infection of Hibiscus. We discovered, in naturally diseased plants of periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) in Brazil, DNA of a phytoplasma which we have classified as a strain of the hibiscus witches' broom phytoplasma ("Candidatus Phytoplasma brasiliense"). C. roseus is the first known, naturally diseased alternate plant host of this phytoplasma species. The results of our work will be of interest to scientists, diagnosticians, ornamental plant producers, commercial companies, and action agencies involved in phytoplasma pathogenicity, disease diagnosis, production of disease-free plants, and prevention of disease spread to new geographical regions.