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.
This study addressed the taxonomic position and group classification of a phytoplasma responsible for virescence and phyllody symptoms in naturally diseased Madagascar periwinkle plants in western Malaysia. Unique regions in the 16S rRNA gene from the Malaysian periwinkle virescence (MaPV) phytoplasma distinguished the phytoplasma from all previously described ‘
’ species. Pairwise sequence similarity scores, calculated through alignment of full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences, revealed that the MaPV phytoplasma 16S rRNA gene shared 96.5 % or less sequence similarity with that of previously described ‘
’ species, justifying the recognition of the MaPV phytoplasma as a reference strain of a novel taxon, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma malaysianum’. The 16S rRNA gene F2nR2 fragment from the MaPV phytoplasma exhibited a distinct restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) profile and the pattern similarity coefficient values were lower than 0.85 with representative phytoplasmas classified in any of the 31 previously delineated 16Sr groups; therefore, the MaPV phytoplasma was designated a member of a new 16Sr group, 16SrXXXII. Phytoplasmas affiliated with this novel taxon and the new group included diverse strains infecting periwinkle, coconut palm and oil palm in Malaysia. Three phytoplasmas were characterized as representatives of three distinct subgroups, 16SrXXXII-A, 16SrXXXII-B and 16SrXXXII-C, respectively.