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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2000;54:221-55.

Phytoplasma: phytopathogenic mollicutes.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory, and Insect Biocontrol Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, USA.


During the past decade, research has yielded new knowledge about the plant and insect host ranges, geographical distribution, and phylogenetic relationships of phytoplasmas, and a taxonomic system has emerged in which distinct phytoplasmas are named as separate "Candidatus phytoplasma species." In large part, this progress has resulted from the development and use of molecular methods to detect, identify, and classify phytoplasmas. While these advances continue, research has recently begun on the phytoplasma genome, how phytoplasmas cause disease, the role of mixed phytoplasmal infections in plant diseases, and molecular/genetic phenomena that underlie symptom development in plants. These and other recent advances are laying the foundation for future progress in understanding the mechanisms of phytoplasma pathogenicity, organization of the phytoplasma genome, evolution of new phytoplasma strains and emergence of new diseases, bases of insect transmissibility and specificity of transmission, and plant gene expression in response to phytoplasmal infection, as well as the design of novel approaches to achieve effective control of phytoplasmal diseases.

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