The phloem-limited bacterium of greening disease of citrus is a member of the alpha subdivision of the Proteobacteria

Int J Syst Bacteriol. 1994 Jul;44(3):379-86. doi: 10.1099/00207713-44-3-379.


Using the PCR, we amplified the 16S ribosomal DNAs (rDNAs) of an Asian strain and an African strain of the uncultured, gram-negative, walled, phloem-limited bacterium-like organism (BLO) associated with citrus greening disease. We evaded coamplification of chloroplast 16S rDNA by using restriction enzymes; the chloroplast 16S rDNA was sensitive to BclI digestion and resistant to EcoRI digestion, while the 16S rDNA of the BLO was resistant to BclI digestion and sensitive to EcoRI digestion. The 16S rDNA of the African BLO strain was amplified from BclI-digested DNA extracted from infected periwinkle leaf midribs. The Asian strain was isolated from plant extract by using a specific monoclonal antibody coated onto the surface of a PCR tube. The 16S rDNAs of the two BLO strains were cloned and sequenced. Comparisons with sequences of 16S rDNAs obtained from the GenBank data base revealed that the two citrus greening disease BLOs belong to the alpha subdivision of the class Proteobacteria. Even though their closest relatives are members of the alpha-2 subgroup, these BLOs are distinct from this subgroup as we observed only 87.5% homology between the 16S rDNAs examined. Therefore, the two BLOs which we studied probably are members of a new lineage in the alpha subdivision of the Proteobacteria. We propose the trivial name "liberobacter" for this new group of bacteria and will wait until additional characteristics have been determined before we propose a formal name.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Citrus / microbiology*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / classification*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / chemistry
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L22532
  • GENBANK/L22533