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Summary

This article reports Salix tetradenia Hand.-Mazz as a new host of Candidatus phytoplasma and demonstrates its association with witches' broom disease on S. tetradenia plants. Plants exhibited typical visual symptoms of phytoplasma with virescence, abnormality of flowers and witches' broom, and phytoplasma bodies were observed by transmission electron microscopy. Products of 1.2 kb were amplified by nested PCR using phytoplasma universal primer pairs R16F2n/R16R2, but no amplification products were obtained from symptomless plants. The sequence analysis of three 16S rDNA isolates showed 99.84%, 99.68% and 99.76% identify, respectively, with the homologous gene (nc_005303) of member of ‘Candidatus phytoplasma asteris’ (16SrI) group. Phylogenetic and virtual computer-simulated restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the 16S rRNA, tuf and rp gene sequences confirmed that this phytoplasma clustered in the 16SrI-B subgroup. These results indicated that the diseased S. tetradenia plants were infected by a phytoplasma of the 16SrI group. This is the first report on the occurrence of phytoplasma disease on S. tetradenia worldwide.