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'Candidatus Phytoplasma noviguineense’, a novel taxon associated with Bogia coconut syndrome and banana wilt disease on the island of New Guinea
Miyazaki, A., T. Shigaki, H. Koinuma, N. Iwabuchi, G. B. Rauka, A. Kembu, J. Saul, K. Watanabe, T. Nijo, K. Maejima, Y.Yamaji, and S.Namba​. (2017). “‘Candidatus Phytoplasma noviguineense’, a novel taxon associated with Bogia coconut syndrome and banana wilt disease on the island of New Guinea.” International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. doi: 10.1099/ijsem.0.002480

Abstract: Bogia coconut syndrome (BCS) is one of the lethal yellowing (LY)-type diseases associated with phytoplasma presence that are seriously threatening coconut cultivation worldwide. It has recently emerged, and is rapidly spreading in northern parts of the island of New Guinea. BCS-associated phytoplasmas collected in different regions were compared in terms of 16S rRNA gene sequences, revealing high identity among them represented by strain BCS-BoR. Comparative analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences revealed that BCS-BoR shared less than a 97.5 % similarity with other species of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma’, with a maximum value of 96.08 % (with strain LY; GenBank accession no. U18747). This result indicates the necessity and propriety of a novel taxon for BCS phytoplasmas according to the recommendations of the IRPCM. Phylogenetic analysis was also conducted on 16S rRNA gene sequences, resulting in a monophyletic cluster composed of BCS-BoR and other LY-associated phytoplasmas. Other phytoplasmas on the island of New Guinea associated with banana wilt and arecanut yellow leaf diseases showed high similarities to BCS-BoR and were closely related to BCS phytoplasmas. Based on the uniqueness of their 16S rRNA gene sequences, a novel taxon ‘Ca. Phytoplasma  noviguineense’ is proposed for these phytoplasmas found on the island of New Guinea, with strain BCS-BoR (GenBank accession no. LC228755) as the reference strain. The novel taxon is described in detail, including information on the symptoms of associated diseases and additional genetic features of the secY gene and rp operon. 

The GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ accession numbers for the 16S rRNA gene, secY, and rp operon nucleotide sequences from strain BCS-BoR are LC228755, LC228769, and LC228762, respectively. The GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ accession numbers for the nucleotide sequences from the other strains used in this study are listed in Table S1.

Two supplementary tables are available with the online Supplementary Material.

Robin Hide

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Hello Bob and others

I do not have all the info at my finger tips but was able to access the supplementary material table. This lists the phytoplasma sequences used in the study. It was a lot of coconut and banana sequences from madang province plus one banana sequence from western province and a couple from betel nut palms.

I would like to make the following point. 

Bananas and coconuts are dying together in Madang province but elsewhere only the bananas are affected. 
Why is this? Different insects maybe? 

  • No recent research says vectors will probably common spp. through PNG. 
  • The coconuts have not started to die yet? 
Our studies revisiting that place in Western Province 4 years later and finding no sick palms suggests if this is true then it is a long wait.

  • Phytoplasma variation within the closely related group? 
I prefer this explanation. 

We have constructed phylogenetic trees that clearly separate the coconut and banana phytoplasmas from Madang province from banana phytoplasmas from Western Province and the Solomon Islands archipelago: Bougainville and Shortland Islands.

In this paper, and also in the EFSA article in September that popped up on pestnet, everything is getting lumped together. If there are important pathological differences between different members of this group, this will be a bad mistake.

Richard Davis
NARCS, Queensland

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Can a member please simplify this report for us non-molecular pathologists. 

It says associated with, this does not mean causes, but what does it mean and what are the implications for vector transmission?


Best regards

Bob Macfarlane
Ivoro Jonga 
PO Box 193
Solomon Islands 
Phone +677 7135649
Skype name: Scapanes

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