Citrus blight and other diseases of recalcitrant etiology
Several economically important diseases of unknown or recently determined cause are reviewed. Citrus blight (CB), first described over 100 years ago, was shown in 1984 to be transmitted by root-graft inoculations; the cause remains unknown and is controversial. Based on graft transmission, it is considered to be an infectious agent by some; others suggest that the cause of CB is abiotic. Citrus variegated chlorosis, although probably long present in Argentina, where it was considered to be a variant of CB, was identified as a specific disease and shown to be caused by a strain of Xylella fastidiosa after if reached epidemic levels in Brazil in 1987. Citrus psorosis, described in 1933 as the first virus disease of citrus, is perhaps one of the last to be characterized. In 1988, it was shown to be caused by a very unusual virus. The cause of lettuce big vein appears to be a viruslike agent that is transmitted by a soilbome fungus. Double-stranded RNAs were associated with the disease, suggesting it may be caused by an unidentified RNA virus. Rio Grande gummosis, dry rot root, peach tree short life, and some replant diseases may be diseases of complex etiology. Various microorganisms have been isolated from trees with these diseases, but the diseases may be attributable in part to environmental factors. Determination of the cause of these diseases of complex etiology has proven difficult, in part, because they affect only mature trees.