Aster yellows (AY), a disease of small grain crops caused by aster yellows phytoplasma (AYp), produces disease symptoms similar to barley yellow dwarf (BYD). From 2003 to 2005, small grain production fields in Minnesota and North Dakota were surveyed to determine the incidences of AY and BYD. In-field spatial patterns of AY-infected plants also were investigated. Plants collected along a five-point transect line were tested for AYp using nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and quantitative real-time PCR assays, and extracted plant sap was tested for serotypes PAV and RPV of Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. During 2003, 2004, and 2005, AYp was detected in plants from 49, 15, and 7% of tested fields, respectively, whereas BYDV was found in plants from 2, 0, and 5% of fields, respectively. Average amplicon count number indicated an in-field spatial trend for greater incidence of AYp and increased populations of AYp in plants located near field edges, with comparably low copy numbers at transect point locations toward the direction of field center. AY is likely a common but largely undetected disease on small grain crops in the Upper Midwest.
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