Phytoplasma pruni” strain CX, belonging to subgroup 16SrIII-A, is a plant-pathogenic bacterium causing economically important diseases in many fruit crops. Here, we report the draft genome sequence, which consists of 598,508 bases, with a G+C content of 27.21 mol%.
Phytoplasmas are a diverse but phylogenetically coherent group of cell-wall-less bacteria affiliated with the class
. Due to difficulties in establishing axenic culture, phytoplasmas were assigned to a provisional genus, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’, and the genus was embraced within the order
. However, phytoplasmas differ significantly from species of the genus
in their habitat specificities, modes of life, metabolic capabilities, genomic architectures, and phylogenetic positions. This communication describes the unique ecological, nutritional, biochemical, genomic and phylogenetic properties that distinguish phytoplasmas from species of the genus
and all other taxa in the class
. Since such distinguishing properties of the phytoplasmas are not referable to the descriptions of the order
and of all other existing orders, namely
, this communication raises the question of whether ‘
’ should be retained in the order
or whether a novel provisional order and family should be created to accommodate the genus ‘
In this study, the taxonomic position and group classification of the phytoplasma associated with a lethal yellowing-type disease (LYD) of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) in Mozambique were addressed. Pairwise similarity values based on alignment of nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences (1530 bp) revealed that the Mozambique coconut phytoplasma (LYDM) shared 100 % identity with a comparable sequence derived from a phytoplasma strain (LDN) responsible for Awka wilt disease of coconut in Nigeria, and shared 99.0–99.6 % identity with 16S rRNA gene sequences from strains associated with Cape St Paul wilt (CSPW) disease of coconut in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Similarity scores further determined that the 16S rRNA gene of the LYDM phytoplasma shared <97.5 % sequence identity with all previously described members of ‘Candidatus
’. The presence of unique regions in the 16S rRNA gene sequence distinguished the LYDM phytoplasma from all currently described members of ‘Candidatus
’, justifying its recognition as the reference strain of a novel taxon, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma palmicola’. Virtual RFLP profiles of the F2n/R2 portion (1251 bp) of the 16S rRNA gene and pattern similarity coefficients delineated coconut LYDM phytoplasma strains from Mozambique as novel members of established group 16SrXXII, subgroup A (16SrXXII-A). Similarity coefficients of 0.97 were obtained for comparisons between subgroup 16SrXXII-A strains and CSPW phytoplasmas from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. On this basis, the CSPW phytoplasma strains were designated members of a novel subgroup, 16SrXXII-B.