The phylogenetic relationships of 17 phytopathogenic mycoplasmalike organisms (MLOs) representing seven major taxonomic groups established on the basis of MLO 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) restriction patterns were examined by performing a sequence analysis of the 16S rDNA gene. The sequence data showed that the MLOs which we examined are members of a relatively homogeneous group that evolved monophyl-etically from a common ancestor. In agreement with results obtained previously with other MLOs, our results also revealed that the organisms are more closely related to and other members of the anaeroplasma clade than to any other mollicutes. A phylogenetic tree based on 16S rDNAs showed that the MLOs which we examined can be divided into the following five primary clusters: (i) the aster yellows strain cluster; (ii) the apple proliferation strain cluster; (iii) the western-X disease strain cluster; (iv) the sugarcane white leaf strain cluster; and (v) the elm yellows strain cluster. The aster yellows, western-X disease, and elm yellows strain clusters were divided into two subgroups each. MLOs whose 16S rDNA sequences have been determined previously by other workers can be placed in one of the five groups. In addition to the overall division based on 16S rDNA sequence homology data, the primary clusters and subgroups could be further defined by a number of positions in the 16S rDNAs that exhibited characteristic compositions, especially in the variable regions of the gene.


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