Genetic relatedness of phytoplasmas is commonly defined on the basis of differences in the highly conserved 16S rRNA gene, which may not resolve closely related phytoplasmas. An example of this is the closely related tomato big bud (TBB) and sweet potato little leaf strain V4 (SPLL-V4) phytoplasmas, which cannot easily be differentiated by their 16S rRNA gene sequences. This study aimed to identify genes on the TBB phytoplasma chromosome which could be used to examine genetic variation between these two closely related phytoplasmas. Random clones generated from TBB phytoplasma genomic DNA were sequenced and characterized by database analysis. Twenty-three genes were identified within 19 random clones, which contained approximately 18.0 kbp of TBB phytoplasma genomic DNA. Half of the TBB phytoplasma genes identified were involved in DNA replication, transcription and translation. The remaining TBB phytoplasma genes were involved in protein secretion, cellular processes and energy metabolism. Phylogenetic analysis of representative genes showed that the TBB phytoplasma grouped with the mycoplasmas with the exception of the TBB phytoplasma secA gene, which grouped with the onion yellows phytoplasma. PCR primers were designed based on the new genes and tested on isolates of the TBB and SPLL-V4 phytoplasmas. Most primers amplified a product from TBB and SPLL-V4 phytoplasma samples. When amplified products were subjected to RFLP analysis, the restriction patterns were the same as the respective original clones. This result confirmed that the same sequence had been amplified by PCR and showed that these isolates were indistinguishable using the new genes. This study showed that in fact the TBB and SPLL-V4 phytoplasmas are closely related even with the analysis of new genes. These new genes have, however, provided insight into the biology of the TBB and SPLL-V4 phytoplasmas.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 2003|