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Last modified: July 2007
Contacts and sources of information - Porfirio Alvarez, Hichez-Frias, Carlos Vargas and Pedro Jorge
Occurrence - First identified at Imbert, in the north coast province of Puerto Plata, by Carter in 1962. Subsequently seen by Schieber in 1969, Romney in 1970 and by Maramorosch in 1972. Reported in the scientific literature by Schieber & Hichez-Frias (1970). MLO visualised but not published. Phytoplasma confirmed by PCR in 1999.
Spread - Spread restricted to seven northern provinces (see Bibliography for published details). The most interesting fact is that the disease has not become epidemic in Dominican Republic and large commercial areas of coconut are presently unaffected. This can be attributed to topographic and climatic conditions and to the "Royal Palm buffer effect" [ see Harries, H.C., Herasme-C., J & Hichez Frias, E. (2001) Why lethal yellowing has not become epidemic in the Dominican Republic. Palms 45(2), 92-96].
Currently active areas - Sporadic orccurrences occur in the places that were identified in the reports after 1970. The disease cannot be called "active" although one small hot spot was seen at Cabarete in 1999. In Februay 2006 dead or dying coconut palms with symptoms of LY were first recognized at Boca Chica on the southern coast. Comparison of near full-length 16S rRNA gene sequence obtained after amplification with primers P1/P7 (GenBank accession No. DQ631639), indicated this phytoplasma was most similar (99.9%) to the strain associated with Yucatan coconut lethal decline (LDY) (U18753), a subgroup 16SrIV-B member (Lee et al., 1998), but belonging to a newly identified subgroup, 16SrIV-E, while sharing only 98.3% identity with LY phytoplasma (AF498308, AF498309). This is the first report of a new 16SrIV group phytoplasma associated with yellowing coconut palms in Dominican Republic (Martinez RT, et al (2007) http://www.bspp.org.uk/ndr/volume15.asp)
Suspected new outbreaks - None
Suspected new strains - None
Other palm/plant hosts - not (yet) reported from ornamental species growing in Dominican Republic.
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