MOLECULAR CHARACTERIZATION AND TRANSMISSION OF BERMUDA GRASS WHITE LEAF PHYTOPLASMA IN IRAN
M. Salehi, K. Izadpanah, M. Siampour, M. Taghizadeh
Symptoms of Bermuda grass white leaf (BGWL) were observed in several provinces of Iran. Among leafhoppers collected in BGWL-affected areas, Exitianus capicola tested positive for phytoplasma in PCR assays and transmitted the BGWL agent to healthy Bermuda grass plants. Using P1/P7 primer pair, target DNA fragments of approximately 1.8 kbp were amplified from diseased samples of Bermuda grass plants from 10 widely separated areas in six provinces. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of P1/P7 PCR products identified two BGWL isolates from Firouzabad and Juyom (Fars province) denoted FBGWL and JBGWL as members of the Bermuda grass white leaf group, 16SrXIV. Percent homology and phylogenetic analysis of 16S rDNA and 16S-23S spacer region (SR) sequences showed also that FBGWL and JBGWL are related to the 16SrXIV group. Based on RFLP and phylogenetic analyses, FBGWL and JBGWL isolates were distinguishable from each other and were classified in subgroups 16SrXIV-A and 16SrXIV-B, respectively. This is the first report of BGWL disease and leafhopper transmission of the associated phytoplasma in Iran.