Previous studies have shown that the fastidious bacterial plant pathogen ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (CLso) is transmitted circulatively and propagatively by the potato psyllid (PoP) Bactericera cockerelli. In this study, the temporal and spatial interrelationships between CLso PoP were investigated by scanning electron microscopy of the digestive system of PoP immature and adult instars and salivary glands of adults post CLso ingestion. CLso biofilms were not detectable on the outer midgut surface of the first and second instars; however, for third to fifth instars and teneral and mature adults, biofilms were observed in increasing numbers in each successive developmental stage. In adult PoP midguts, CLso cells were observed between the basal lamina and basal epithelial cell membranes; in basal laminar perforations, on the outer basal laminar surface, and in the ventricular lumen, epithelial cytosol, and filter chamber periventricular space. CLso were also abundantly visible in the salivary gland pericellular spaces and in the epidermal cell cytosol of the head. Collectively, these results point to an intrusive, systemic invasion of PoP by CLso that employs an endo/exocytosis-like mechanism, in the context of a propagative, circulative mode of transmission.
Temperature has been shown to have a significant effect on development of liberibacter species associated with citrus Huanglongbing disease. ‘Candidatus Liberibacter africanus’ and ‘Ca. L. americanus’ are both heat sensitive, whereas ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ is heat tolerant. The recently described ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ is associated with zebra chip (ZC), a newly emerging and economically important disease of potato worldwide. This psyllid-transmitted liberibacter species severely affects several other solanaceous crops and carrot. Experiments were conducted to evaluate effects of temperature on development of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and ZC disease. Potato plants were inoculated with ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ by briefly exposing them to liberibacter-infective potato psyllids at various temperatures under laboratory conditions. Following insect exposure, the plants were maintained at selected temperature regimes in growth chambers, monitored for ZC symptom development, and later tested for liberibacter by polymerase chain reaction to confirm infection. Results indicated that temperatures below 17°C appear to slow development of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and ZC symptoms, whereas temperatures above 32°C are detrimental to this liberibacter. Compared to Huanglongbing liberibacters, ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ appears heat sensitive. The sensitivity of this bacterium and its insect vector to temperature may partially explain incidence, severity, and distribution of ZC in affected regions.