New Disease Reports (2000) 1, 9.

The identification of a phytoplasma from the Aster Yellows group infecting sugar beet in Hungary 

R.A. Mumford 1*, L. Potyondi 2, V.A. Harju 1 and C.M. Henry 1


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Accepted: 18 Jul 2000

In September 1999, sugar beet from several fields in Hajdszovat, Hungary (in the Kaba sugar factory region) were identified showing unusual symptoms, including a 'pineapple-shaped' crown, stunted, chlorotic and necrotic leaves and petioles, with recent re-growth being small and deformed. In some cases, up to 60% of the crop was showing symptoms. The observed symptoms were similar to those described for 'low sugar disease'; a condition previously recorded only in France, which is putatively associated with a phytoplasma of the Stolbur group and is believed to be vectored by the leaf hopper, Pentastiridius beieri (Munchembled et al., 1999). As a result of these similarities, and as extensive testing had failed to identify any other pathogens as the potential cause, samples were tested for phytoplasma infection. DNA was extracted from symptomatic plants (3 in total) using an enrichment procedure (Ahrens & Seemuller, 1992) and tested using PCR with universal nested 16S rRNA primers (Gundersen & Lee, 1996). In all cases, a single product (1,246 bp) was obtained (none was obtained form healthy beet controls). One of these products was cloned and sequenced. Subsequent BLAST analysis showed the obtained sequence (accession no. AF245439) shared closest homology with 16S rRNA sequences from members of the Aster yellows (16SrI) group. The greatest similarity was with a phytoplasma isolated from winter oilseed rape in the Czech Republic (accession no. U89378) and onion yellows from Japan (accession no. D12569) with 99.7% and 99.3% sequence identity respectively. Both phytoplasmas are classified within sub-group 16SrI-B (Bertaccini et al.,1998). The rape phytoplasma is thought to be the same as those previously described as rape green petal or phyllody, found in Germany and Hungary (Bertaccini et al.,1998). This is the first definitive record of a phytoplasma infecting sugar beet in Hungary.


  1. Ahrens U, Seemuller, E, 1992. Detection of DNA of plant pathogenic mycoplasmalike organisms by a polymerase chain reaction that amplifies a sequence of the 16S rRNA gene. Phytopathology 82, 828-832.
  2. Bertaccini, A, Vorackova, Z, Vibio, M, Franova, J, Navratil, M, Spak, J, Nebesarova, J, 1998. Comparison of phytoplasmas infecting winter oilseed rape in the Czech Republic with Italian Brassica phytoplasmas and their relationship to the aster yellows group. Plant Pathology 47, 317-324.
  3. Gundersen, DE, Lee, IM, 1996. Ultrasensitive detection of phytoplasmas by nested-PCR assays using two universal primer pairs. Phytopathologia Mediterranea 35, 144-151.
  4. Munchembled, C, Garressus, S, Ecalle, F, Boudon-Padieu, E, Gatineau, F. 1999. Le Syndrome Des Basses Richesses. In: Anonymous, ed. Proceedings of 5th Conference Internationale Sur Les Ravageurs En Agriculture, 7-9 December 1999, Montpellier, France. Paris: ANPP, 529-536.

This report was formally published in Plant Pathology

©2000 The Authors