Zebra chip (ZC) disease of potato (Solanum tuberosum) is associated with infection by ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso). Two haplotypes of Lso—A and B—occur in the United States. Lso haplotype B is more virulent than haplotype A, causing greater disease incidence in tubers, more severe symptoms, and greater loss in tuber yield. This study assessed whether tubers from infected plants generate new infected plants the following year. The effects of both Lso haplotypes A and B on tuber resprout were examined on five potato cultivars. When compared with noninfected tubers, overall plant emergence rate from Lso A- or B-infected tubers was lower, plants emerged slower, and plants generated lower daughter tuber yields in weight and quantity. Plants generally emerged poorly from Lso B-infected tubers and produced lower daughter tuber yields than Lso A-infected tubers. Regardless of Lso treatment, all daughter tubers were asymptomatic, and only 0.3% tested positive for Lso in experiments conducted over 2 years. This suggests that plants generated from Lso A- and Lso B-infected seed potatoes with severe ZC symptoms are likely not a significant source of Lso in potato fields.
Zebra chip disease of potato is caused by the bacterial pathogen ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ and is a growing concern for commercial potato production in several countries in North and Central America and New Zealand. ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ is vectored by the potato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli, which transmits the pathogen to several cultivated and wild solanaceaous host plants. Silverleaf nightshade (SLN), Solanum elaeagnifolium, is a common weed in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and a host for both the potato psyllid and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’. SLN plants were successfully inoculated with ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ under laboratory conditions. Retention studies demonstrated that ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-infected SLN planted in the field in January 2013, concurrent with commercial potato planting, retained the pathogen under field conditions throughout the year despite extensive dieback during summer. The presence of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ was confirmed in leaves, roots, and stolons of SLN plants collected the following year using polymerase chain reaction. Acquisition assays using B. cockerelli adults also revealed that SLN retained the pathogen. Transmission studies determined that B. cockerelli can acquire ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ within a 2-week acquisition access period on ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-infected SLN and subsequently transmit the pathogen to potato. These results demonstrate that SLN plants can serve as a reservoir for ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’, providing a source of inoculum for B. cockerelli adults colonizing potato the next season. The presence of SLN plants all year round in the LRGV makes the weed an epidemiologically important host. These findings underscore the importance of eradicating or managing SLN plants growing in the vicinity of potato fields to prevent spread of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and damage caused by zebra chip.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ is a pathogen of solanaceous crops (Solanales: Solanaceae) that causes zebra chip disease of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and plant dieback in tomato (S. lycopersicum L.) and pepper (Capsicum spp.). This pathogen is vectored by the potato/ tomato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Šulc) (Hemiptera: Triozidae), but little is known about the interactions between B. cockerelli and ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum.’ Fluorescence in situ hybridization was used to assess the incidence of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ in the hemolymph, bacteriomes, alimentary canals, and salivary glands of B. cockerelli. Liberibacter was observed in 66% of alimentary canals, 39% of salivary glands, and 40% of bacteriomes dissected from adult psyllids. Compared with adults, the organs of fifth instars appeared less likely to harbor Liberibacter, which was observed in 52% of alimentary canals, 10% of salivary glands, and 6% of bacteriomes dissected from the nymphs. Results of real-time polymerase chain reaction confirmed that fewer fifth instars were infected with Liberibacter compared with adults and indicated that fifth instars were less likely to transmit the pathogen to noninfected host plants. These observations of the localization of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ in the organs and tissues of B. cockerelli adults and nymphs will aid the study of Liberibacter-psyllid interactions and the epidemiology of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum.’