'Candidatus Phytoplasma lycopersici', a phytoplasma associated with 'hoja de perejil' disease in Bolivia.
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New diseases known locally as 'hoja de perejil' of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) and 'brotes grandes' of potato (Solanum tuberosum Q were first recognized in surveys of production fields in Bolivia during 2000-2003. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) witches' broom and little leaf diseases of native weeds Morrenia variegata and mora-mora (Serjania perulacea) were also identified near to production fields. Phytoplasma aetiology was attributed to each of these diseases following detection and initial identification of aster yellows group (16SrI) phytoplasmas in all five diseased plant species. While potato, alfalfa and mora-mora plants contained indistinguishable 16SrI-B strains, 'hoja de perejil' (THP) and morrenia little leaf (MVLL)-associated phytoplasma strains shared 97.5% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity with 'Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris' and related strains and <95% similarity with all other 'Candidatus Phytoplasma' species. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences indicated that the THP and MVLL phytoplasmas represent a novel lineage within the aster yellows (16SrI) group and, on the basis of unique 16S rRNA gene sequences, we propose that THP and MVLL phytoplasmas represent 'Candidatus Phytoplasma lycopersici', with THP as the reference strain.
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