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Detection, identification, and significance of phytoplasmas in wild grasses in East Africa

Asudi, George O., Van den Berg, Johnnie, Midega, Charles A. O., Schneider, Bernd, Seemüller, Erich, Pickett, John ORCID: and Khan, Zeyaur R. 2016. Detection, identification, and significance of phytoplasmas in wild grasses in East Africa. Plant Disease 100 (1) , pp. 108-115. 10.1094/PDIS-11-14-1173-RE

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Plant-pathogenic phytoplasmas found in wild grasses in East Africa could pose a serious threat to the cultivation of Napier grass, Pennisetum purpureum, the most important livestock fodder in the region. To asses this threat, leaves from plants of 33 grass species were sampled from Mbita, Bungoma, and Busia districts in western Kenya; Tarime district in northern Tanzania; and Busia and Bugiri districts in the eastern Uganda to determine which species host phytoplasmas, the identity of the phytoplasmas, and their relationship with disease symptoms. Phytoplasmas were detected using universal primers based on conserved phytoplasma-specific 16S rDNA sequences from 11 grass species collected. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis revealed the presence of Napier grass stunt-related phytoplasmas in 11 grass species, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma cynodontis’ in three, and goosegrass white leaf phytoplasma in 2 wild grass species. This study showed that the geographical distribution, diversity of phytoplasmas, and their grass host species in East Africa is greater than antecedently thought and that typical disease symptoms, including white leaf or stunting alone, are not reliable indicators of the presence of phytoplasma. It also shows the need to identify insect vectors responsible for phytoplasma transmission from native grasses to Napier grass or other cereals present in the region.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: American Phytopathological Society
ISSN: 0191-2917
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 November 2017
Date of Acceptance: 9 February 2015
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 08:26

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