Get access

Surveys reveal the occurrence of phytoplasmas in plants at different geographical locations in Peru


M. Dickinson, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, UK.


Two independent surveys were performed in Peru during February and November 2007 to detect the presence of phytoplasmas within any crops showing symptoms resembling those caused by phytoplasmas. Molecular identifications and characterisations were based on phytoplasma 16S and 23S rRNA genes using nested PCR and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP). The surveys indicated that phytoplasmas were present in most of the locations sampled in Peru in both cultivated crops, including carrots, maize, native potatoes, improved potato, tomato, oats, papaya and coconut, and in other plants such as dandelion and the ornamental Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences confirmed that while most of the isolates belong to the 16SrI aster yellows group, which is ubiquitous throughout other parts of South America, one isolate from potato belongs to the 16SrII peanut witches’ broom group, and one isolate from tomato and one from dandelion belong to the 16SrIII X-disease group. The use of T-RFLP was validated for the evaluation of phytoplasma-affected field samples and provided no evidence for mixed infection of individual plants with more than one phytoplasma isolate. These data represent the first molecular confirmation of the presence of phytoplasmas in a broad range of crops in Peru.