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Palm yellows phytoplasmas and their genetic classification

Khayalethu Ntushelo
Monica L Elliott
Nigel A Harrison


Palm yellows phytoplasmas have been a subject of debate because of two recent outbreaks. Firstly, a lethal yellowing-type phytoplasma disease was recorded on a number of palm species of mainly the genus Phoenix in Florida in 2008. Shortly afterwards, Sabal palmetto which has never been threatened by a phytoplasma before, was suddenly attacked by a phytoplasma strain similar to the one that attacked Phoenix in 2008. Both these recent outbreaks have made phytoplasmologists realize the need to characterize palm phytoplasma strains in order to rapidly determine the phytoplasma palm yellows in future disease outbreaks. Various workers have made attempts to genetically characterize palm phytoplasmas but a lot of crucial knowledge is still lacking. This review focuses on the little progress that has been made to characterize palm phytoplasmas and we also recommend further steps to provide more tools for characterization.

Keywords: Cocos nucifera, palm yellows phytoplasmas, Sabal palmetto, Phoenix.

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 12(22), pp. 3376-3382