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Title: MILKWEED YELLOWS-RELATED PHYTOPLASMA IN BLUEBERRY AND A PREVIOUSLY UNDESCRIBED PHYTOPLASMA IN CHERRY

Author
item VALIUNAS, DEIVIDAS - VILNIUS LITHUANIA
item Davis, Robert
item MAAS, JOHN
item ALMINAITE, AGNES - VILNIUS LITHUANIA
item JOMANTIENE, RASA - VILNIUS LITHUANIA

Submitted to: Plant Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/10/2002
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Phytoplamsas are small bacteria without cell walls, and they cause many plant diseases, resulting in significant economic losses. To develop ways to control the spread of these pathogens, we need to know where specific phytoplasmas occur in the world and identify the plants they infect. In a study of phytoplasmas infecting plant species in Lithuania, we found that diseased plants of sour cherry and wild blueberry were infected by phytoplasmas. Cherry and blueberry are important food sources for human consumption in Lithuania, and blueberry is a major part of some forest ecosystems. Using molecular methods to analyze gene sequences, we found that the cherry-infecting phytoplasma, which is called cherry little leaf phytoplasma, was different from phytoplasmas previously reported to infect cherry and related species and was representative of a new subgroup in the phytoplasma group called "asters yellows". The blueberry-infecting phytoplasma, named blueberry proliferation phytoplasma, was closely related to milkweed yellows phytoplasma, which has been reported only in milkweek plants in the United States. This report (i) is the first identification of phytoplasmas infecting cherry and wild blueberry in the Baltic region, (ii) shows that blueberry is a host of the milkweek phytoplasma, and (iii) proves the discovery of a new phytoplasma in cherry. The results will help epidemiologists and plant pathologists to understand disease outbreaks in agriculturally important plants and in plants in the natural environment.

Technical Abstract: Two phytoplasma lineages were identified in diseased plants of sour cherry (Cerasus vulgaris Mill. Syn. Prunus cerasus) and European blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.). On the basis of RFLP and nucleotide sequence analyses of 16S rDNA, the cherry little leaf (ChLL) phytoplasma was classified in group 16SrI (aster yellows phytoplasma group), new subgroup Q. The blueberry proliferation (BBP) phytoplasma was classified in group 16SrIII (X-disease phytoplasma group), subgroup F (milkweed yellows phytoplasma subgroup). Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequences are consistent with the concept that the ChLL and BBP phytoplasmas represent two distinct phytoplasma lineages. The results extend the established geographic range of phytoplasmal diseases in blueberry and cherry, and expand the breadth of known phytoplasmal biodiversity.