Detection and characterization of phytoplasma associated with big bud disease of tomato in China.
Symptomatic tomato plants exhibiting big bud, proliferation and small leaves of lateral shoots, purplish top leaves, phyllody, enlarged pistils, hypertrophic calyxes and small and polygonal fruit were collected in Yunnan Province of China. Pleomorphic phytoplasma-like bodies were observed in the phloem sieve tube elements of symptomatic plants by transmission electron microscopy. The presence of phytoplasma in collected samples was further analysed and identified by PCR and virtual computer-simulated restriction fragment length polymorphism (virtual RFLP). A 1.2 kb product was amplified by PCR with universal primers R16F2n/R16R2. Sequence comparisons revealed that the tested strains shared 99% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity with members of 'Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia' (16SrII group). Phylogenetic and virtual RFLP analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences confirmed that the phytoplasma is a member of the 16SrII group. This is the first report of 16SrII group phytoplasma infecting tomato in China.