Zebra chip, is a potato disease associated with the bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) and vectored by the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli Šulc. Potato psyllids are native to North America, where four haplotypes have been described. They are able to colonize a wide range of solanaceous species, crops, and weeds. The epidemiology of zebra chip disease is still poorly understood and might involve the different haplotypes of psyllids as well as two haplotypes of Lso. As several perennial weeds have been recognized as potential host for potato psyllids and Lso, a yearly monitoring of several patches of bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) and field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) located in the potato-growing region of southern Idaho was conducted from 2013 to 2017, to gain insight into psyllid dynamics in non-potato hosts and Lso presence in the fields. Potato psyllids caught on each host were individually tested for Lso, and a subset were haplotyped based on the CO1 gene, along with the haplotyping of Lso in positive samples. On bittersweet nightshade, the Northwestern haplotype was numerically dominant, with around 2.7% of psyllids found to be carrying either Lso haplotype A or B, suggesting a limited role in zebra chip persistence, which has infected Idaho fields at a low occurrence since the 2012 outbreak. Field bindweed was found to be a transient, non-overwintering host for potato psyllid of Northwestern, Western and Central haplotypes late in the season, suggesting minor, if any, role in persistence of Lso and field infestation by potato psyllids.
The potato/tomato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Šulc) transmits ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) (also known as ‘Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous’), the bacterium associated with zebra chip disease (ZC) in potato. When disease incidence is high, ZC causes large economic losses through reductions in potato yield and tuber quality. No commercial potato variety has been found totally resistant to the pathogen. We evaluated host acceptance behaviors using no-choice assays on three breeding clones derived from Solanum chacoense Bitter with putative tolerance to Lso and/or ZC as part of an effort to determine whether the disease tolerance observed in those breeding clones was related to effects on psyllid settling behavior. We also counted the number of eggs laid and nymphs hatched on the different genotypes to observe any differences in reproduction. The potato variety ‘Russet Burbank’ was used as a susceptible control. Probing frequency and female walking duration were greater on Russet Burbank than the other genotypes. Oviposition did not differ among genotypes. However, female psyllids on two of the Lso-tolerant genotypes displayed reduced fertility 18–24 d after confinement with a male, relative to females on Russet Burbank. These results suggest that although the germplasms display minor abiotic activity on psyllid fertility, tolerance to Lso may be more strongly linked with plant tolerance to the pathogen rather than effects on host acceptance behaviors.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) is an uncultured, phloem-associated bacterium causing a severe tuber disease in potato called zebra chip (ZC). Seven haplotypes of Lso have been described in different hosts, with haplotypes A and B found associated with infections in potato and tomato. In the field, Lso is transmitted by the potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli), and between 2011 and 2015, a significant change in Lso haplotype prevalence was previously reported in Idaho: from exclusively A haplotype found in tested psyllids in 2012 to mainly B haplotype found in collected psyllids in 2015. However, prevalence of Lso haplotypes in Idaho was not analyzed in potato tubers exhibiting symptoms of ZC. To fill in this knowledge gap, prevalence of Lso haplotypes was investigated in potato tubers harvested in southern Idaho between 2012 and 2018, and it was found to change from exclusively A haplotype in the 2012 season to an almost equal A and B haplotype distribution during the 2016 season. During the same period, haplotype distribution of Lso in psyllid vectors collected using yellow sticky traps also changed, but in psyllids, the shift from A haplotype of Lso to B haplotype was complete, with no A haplotype detected in 2016 to 2018. The changes in the haplotype prevalence of the Lso circulating in potato fields in southern Idaho may be, among other factors, responsible for a decrease in the ZC incidence in Idaho potato fields between an outbreak of the disease in 2012 and a very low level of ZC afterward.