Trypanosomatids isolated from plants have been assigned typically into the genus Phytomonas. Such designations do not reflect the biology of the diverse isolates; confusion may arise due to the transient presence in plants of monogenetic (insect) trypanosomatids deposited by phytophagous bugs. To develop further molecular markers for the plant kinetoplastids, we have obtained the DNA sequence of the 5S ribosomal RNA gene from 24 isolates harvested from phloem, latex, and fruit. Small, distinct sequence differences were found at the 3′-ends of the transcribed regions; substantial sequence and size differences were found in the non-transcribed regions. Alignment of the gene sequences from all the isolates suggested the presence of eight groupings. While six groups contained isolates from single plant tissues, groups C and A contained isolates from both fruit and latex. The DNA sequences of the 10 phloem-restricted pathogenic isolates from South America and the Carribean were highly conserved and thus comprised a single group (H). The conserved nature of the 5S ribosomal RNA genes in these plant pathogens supports the proposal that they be considered as a distinct section, the phloemicola.
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Vol. 47 • No. 6