The potato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Šulc) (Hemiptera: Triozidae) is a pest of solanaceous crops (order Solanales), including potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and tomato (S. lycopersicum L.). Feeding by high populations of nymphs causes psyllid yellows while adults and nymphs are vectors of the plant pathogen ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’. Foliar symptoms that were consistent with either ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infection or psyllid yellows were observed in 2019 on tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa Brot.; family Solanaceae) grown within an experimental plot located near Saltillo, Mexico. This study had three primary objectives: 9i) determine whether the foliar symptoms observed on tomatillo were associated with ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infection, (ii) identify the haplotypes of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and potato psyllids present in the symptomatic plot, and (iii) use gut content analysis to infer the plant sources of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-infected psyllids. Results confirmed that 71% of symptomatic plants and 71% of psyllids collected from the plants were infected with ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’. The detection of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ in plants and psyllids and the lack of nymphal populations associated with psyllid yellows strongly suggests that the observed foliar symptoms were caused by ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infection. All infected plants and insects harbored the more virulent ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ haplotype B but one psyllid was also coinfected with haplotype A. The potato psyllids were predominantly of the central haplotype but one psyllid was identified as the western haplotype. Molecular gut content analysis of psyllids confirmed the movement of psyllids between noncrop habitats and tomatillo and indicated that ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infection of psyllids was associated with increased plant diversity in their diet.
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 psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli (Šulc), is a major pest of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.; Solanales: Solanaceae) as a vector of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’, the pathogen that causes zebra chip. Management of zebra chip is challenging in part because the noncrop sources of Liberibacter-infected psyllids arriving in potato remain unknown. Adding to this challenge is the occurrence of distinct genetic haplotypes of both potato psyllid and Liberibacter that differ in host range. Longleaf groundcherry (Physalis longifolia Nutt.) has been substantially overlooked in prior research as a potential noncrop source of Liberibacter-infected B. cockerelli colonizing fields of potato. The objective of this study was to assess the suitability of P. longifolia to the three common haplotypes of B. cockerelli (central, western, and northwestern haplotypes), and to two haplotypes of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ (Liberibacter A and B haplotypes). Greenhouse bioassays indicated that B. cockerelli of all three haplotypes produced more offspring on P. longifolia than on potato and preferred P. longifolia over potato during settling and egg-laying activities. Greenhouse and field trials showed that P. longifolia was also highly susceptible to Liberibacter. Additionally, we discovered that infected rhizomes survived winter and produced infected plants in late spring that could then be available for psyllid colonization and pathogen acquisition. Results show that P. longifolia is susceptible to both B. cockerelli and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and must be considered as a potentially important source of infective B. cockerelli colonizing potato fields in the western United States.
‘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.