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J Bacteriol. 1989 Nov;171(11):5901-6.

16S rRNA sequence indicates that plant-pathogenic mycoplasmalike organisms are evolutionarily distinct from animal mycoplasmas.

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  • 1Genetics Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.


The plant-pathogenic mycoplasmalike organisms (MLOs) are so named because they lack cell walls. Many features that are essential to a definitive classification remain uncharacterized, because these organisms have resisted attempts at in vitro culturing. To establish the taxonomic position of the MLOs, the DNA region containing the 16S rRNA gene from a representative of the MLOs has been cloned and sequenced. Sequence comparisons indicate that the MLOs are related to Mycoplasma capricolum and that these two bacteria share their phylogenetic origin with Bacillus subtilis. The low G + C content of this gene and features of its deduced secondary structure further support this grouping. However, the presence of a single tRNAIle gene in the spacer between the 16S rRNA and 23S rRNA genes of the MLOs differentiates the MLOs from other representatives of the mycoplasmas, which indicates an early divergence in the evolution of the members of the class Mollicutes. The presence of certain characteristic oligonucleotides in the 16S rRNA sequence indicates that MLOs may be closely related to acholeplasmas.

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