Single-stranded circular DNA associated with foliar decay disease of coconut palm in Vanuatu (FDD-DNA) has been purified and three fragments have been cloned in plasmid pUC19. Clones labelled with P by nick translation were used as specific probes for FDD-DNA in dot blot and Southern transfer hybridization assays. These assays were more sensitive than the polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis assay developed previously for diagnosis of FDD. Hybridization tests showed that FDD-DNA had no detectable sequence similarity to the geminivirus infecting which grows alongside FDD-infected coconut palms; that , which is the host plant of the vector of FDD, , is not infected with FDD-DNA; and that the symptomless coconut variety, Vanuatu Tall, is susceptible to infection with FDD-DNA. Native FDD-DNA migrates as two distinct bands in polyacrylamide gels, and both hybridize to the probe. Previous estimates and data presented here show that FDD-DNA is approximately half the size of the geminivirus DNA (approx. 2350 nucleotides) and support the view that FDD is caused by a virus not typical of any plant virus taxonomic group.

Keyword(s): coconut palm , FDD-DNA and geminivirus

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