Submitted to: Phytopathology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/8/2014
Publication Date: 1/15/2015
Citation: Davis, R.E., Zhao, Y., Lee, I., Wei, W. 2015. 3-Dimensional modeling of protein structures distinguishes closely related phytoplasmas. Phytopathology. 105:S12.
Technical Abstract: Phytoplasmas (formerly mycoplasmalike organisms, MLOs) are cell wall-less bacteria that inhabit phloem tissue of plants and are transmitted from plant-to-plant by phloem-feeding insects. Numerous diseases affecting hundreds of plant species in many botanical families are attributed to infections by phytoplasmas. Phytoplasmas are classified in 16S rRNA gene (16S rDNA) RFLP groups and subgroups that to date embrace over 35 ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’ species. However, closely related strain and species lineages can be difficult to distinguish based on conserved gene sequences such as 16S rDNA. In this work, we studied the deduced amino acid sequences of selected proteins encoded by the genomes of phytoplasma strains and compared the 3-dimensional structures the proteins modeled in silico. Closely related strain lineages, as well as distantly related strains, were clearly distinguished by differences in protein structural models. The results indicated that some amino acid positions in a protein may reflect lineage differences more clearly than do others, and that 3-dimensional modeling can provide useful means for distinguishing closely related strains that may differ in biological properties.