Here’s a bit of a natural history mystery that I found yesterday: this green flower in a bed of White Trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum); something that I had never seen before.
The few initial web references I found suggested this is caused by a bacterium or a virus; further detective work unearthed a 46-year old paper (Hooper, Case & Myers, 1971) that suggests this greening is caused by “mycoplasma organisms”—a kind of bacteria and will cause the plant (eventually) to die.
It sounds like in the ensuing 40+ years since Hooper, Case & Myers published their (3 page!) paper, these “mycoplasma organisms” pathogens have come to be called phytoplasma—see Bertaccini et al., (1999), a paper that references Hooper, Case & Myers (1971).
And with that little discovery, a new world opens: a 2016 paper by Arocha-Rosete et al. that links the disease to a specific strain of phytoplasm: Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni, closely related (like 99% similar) to a phytoplasm called Milkweed yellows phytoplasma.
Because I’m a geek, here’s the reference to the 1971 article: Hooper, G. R., Case, F. W. and Myers, R. 1971. Mycoplasma-like bodies associated with a flower greening disorder of a wild flower, Trillium grandflorium. Plant Disease Reporter, 55: 1108–1110.
Here are the rest of the references I unearthed:
Bertaccini, A., Fránová, J., Paltrinieri, S. et al. European Journal of Plant Pathology (1999) 105: 487. doi:10.1023/A:1008745206438
Arocha-Rosete Y, Morales-Lizcano NP, Hasan A, Yoshioka K, Moeder W, Michelutti R, Satta E, Bertaccini A, Scott J (2016) First report of the identification of a ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’-related strain in Trillium species in Canada. New Disease Reports 34, 19. doi: 10.5197/j.2044-0588.2016.034.019