POSSIBLE CAUSE OF EUROPEAN BLUEBERRY DISEASE IS RELATED TO NORTH AMERICAN MILKWEED YELLOWS PHYTOPLASMA
D. Valiunas, A. Alminaite, R. Jomantiene, R.E. Davis, J.L. Maas
A phytoplasma lineage previously found in Germany and North America was identified in diseased plants of wild European blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) exhibiting symptoms of shoot proliferation in Lithuania. On the basis of RFLP and nucleotide sequence analyses of 16S rDNA, the phytoplasma (strain VAC-L) was classified in the group 16SrIII (X-disease phytoplasma group), subgroup F. Phylogenetic analysis based on 16SrRNA gene sequences confirmed that the VAC-L phytoplasma is closely related to phytoplasma strain VAC from diseased, cultivated blueberry in Germany and to North American milkweed yellows phytoplasma strain MW1, both of which are classified in subgroup III-F. The results extend the known geographic range of phytoplasmal diseases in blueberry, and raise questions concerning intercontinental movement of subgroup III-F strains and their potential to infect cultivated Vaccinium spp. in North America.