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New subgroup 16SrIII-Y phytoplasmas associated with false-blossom diseased cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) plants and with known and potential insect vectors in New Jersey

I.-M. Lee, J. Polashock, K. D. Bottner-Parker, P. G. Bagadia, C. Rodriguez-Saona, Y. Zhao, R. E. Davis
European journal of plant pathology 2014 v.139 no.2 pp. 399-406
Limotettix, Phytoplasma, Scaphytopius, Vaccinium macrocarpon, bogs, farms, insect vectors, nucleotide sequences, pathogens, phylogeny, polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, sequence analysis, New Jersey
The identity of the presumed phytoplasmal pathogen associated with cranberry false-blossom disease has never been fully clarified. In the present study a molecular-based procedure was employed to determine the identity of the phytoplasma. Tissues of cranberry plants exhibiting cranberry false-blossom symptoms were collected from multiple bogs on each of three randomly selected commercial cranberry farms in New Jersey. Leafhoppers, including the known vector Limotettix vaccinii (Van Duzee) (=Scleroracus vaccinii, Euscellis striatulus) and the sharp-nosed leafhopper Scaphytopius magdalensis (Provancher), a known vector of blueberry stunt disease, were collected from two different farms in New Jersey. Nested PCR assays and RFLP analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences were employed for the detection and identification of the associated phytoplasmas. All of 20 cranberry plants sampled and five out of 14 batches of leafhoppers tested positive for phytoplasma. Virtual RFLP and sequence analyses revealed that all the associated phytoplasmas were members or variants of a new subgroup, 16SrIII-Y. Phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA sequences indicated that cranberry false-blossom phytoplasma strains represented a lineage distinct from other 16SrIII subgroups. This is the first report confirming that a new phytoplasma (designated as a new subgroup 16SrIII-Y) is associated with cranberry false-blossom disease and associated with both leafhopper species in New Jersey.