Cannabis sativa plants growing nearby sugarcane fields affected with grassy shoot disease at Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, showed severe witches’ broom symptoms. The DNA from symptomatic Cannabis and sugarcane samples was isolated and subjected to nested PCR assays with universal phytoplasma-specific primer pairs (P1/P7 and R16F2n/R16R2). A DNA fragment of ~ 1.2 kbp was amplified in all the symptomatic samples of sugarcane and Cannabis with R16F2n/R16R2 primer pair but was absent in non-symptomatic samples. Pairwise sequence comparison, phylogeny and in silico RFLP analysis of 16S rDNA sequences confirmed the identity of a rice yellow dwarf phytoplasma group-related strain (16SrXI-B) associated with Cannabis which suggested its role as potential natural reservoir of SCGS phytoplasma in nature.
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