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Biologicals. 2010 Mar;38(2):193-203. doi: 10.1016/j.biologicals.2009.11.007. Epub 2010 Feb 11.

Spiroplasmas and phytoplasmas: microbes associated with plant hosts.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, MD 21252, USA.


This review will focus on two distinct genera, Spiroplasma and 'Candidatus Phytoplasma,' within the class Mollicutes (which also includes the genus Mycoplasma, a concern for animal-based cell culture). As members of the Mollicutes, both are cell wall-less microbes which have a characteristic small size (1-2 microM in diameter) and small genome size (530 Kb-2220 Kb). These two genera contain microbes which have a dual host cycle in which they can replicate in their leafhopper or psyllid insect vectors as well as in the sieve tubes of their plant hosts. Major distinctions between the two genera are that most spiroplasmas are cultivable in nutrient rich media, possess a very characteristic helical morphology, and are motile, while the phytoplasmas remain recalcitrant to cultivation attempts to date and exhibit a pleiomorphic or filamentous shape. This review article will provide a historical over view of their discovery, a brief review of taxonomical characteristics, diversity, host interactions (with a focus on plant hosts), phylogeny, and current detection and elimination techniques.

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