Plant and Insect Mycoplasma Techniques by M. J. Daniels
Only 14 years have passed since the first publication appeared which implicated mycoplasmas as agents of plant disease. The diseases themselves have been known for much longer; indeed clover phyllody, a typical example, was described in the seventeenth century, well before any animal mycoplasma diseases had been documented. The early history of plant mycoplasmas is described in Chapter 2 and one obvious conclusion to be drawn from the frustrating experiences of the earlier workers is that the experimental methods at their disposal were simply inadequate for the task. Progress in science depends critically upon the development of new methods. Although important advances have been made in plant and insect mycoplasmology, notably in the discovery of spiroplasmas, many intractable problems remain. Most plant mycoplasmas cannot yet be cultured in vitro, and their natural plant habitat, the phloem, is one of the most difficult plant tissues for the experimenter to handle, placing severe restrictions on the type of experiments which can be performed in vivo. It is clear that radically new methods may be required to solve these problems.
A survey of the progress which has been made shows that application of techniques from a wide range of disciplines has been necessary. A successful individual or group of workers must possess the skills of a plant pathologist, a plantsman, a plant physiologist, a light- and electron microscopist, a bacteriologist, a biochemist, an immunologist, an entomologist, a virologist and a molecular geneticist. There must be few who could claim to possess practical expertise in all these fields, but some familiarity with the scope and limitations of each is essential. The editors hope that this book will serve as an introduction for those wishing to undertake research in this specialised area of mycoplasmology. We felt that a general discussion of techniques would be more useful than a detailed laboratory manual; to have included full experimental details in each chapter would have increased greatly the size and cost of the book. The details can of course be found in original papers cited, but it is rare for a method to be taken from the literature and applied without modification to a new system.
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