New Assays for Rapid Detection of Beet Leafhopper-Associated Plant Pathogens, ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma trifolii’, Beet Curly Top Virus, and Spiroplasma citri

Swisher Grimm et al. (2023). Plant Disease 107 (12)
Names (1)
Ca. Phytoplasma trifolii
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
The beet leafhopper Circulifer tenellus is an important pest of agricultural crops in the United States, where it transmits beet curly top virus, beet leafhopper-transmitted virescence agent phytoplasma, and Spiroplasma citri to numerous crops, affecting yield and quality. Each of these pathogens have been linked to serious disease outbreaks within Washington State in the past century. To mitigate the risk of disease, growers target the beet leafhopper in their insect pest management programs. Knowledge of pathogen prevalence in beet leafhopper populations could help growers make better management decisions, but timely diagnostics is required. Four new assays were developed for the rapid detection of the beet leafhopper-associated pathogens. These include two assays that detect Beet leafhopper transmitted virescence agent (a PCR and a real-time PCR SYBR green assay), a duplex PCR assay that simultaneously detects beet curly top virus and Spiroplasma citri, and a multiplex real-time PCR assay for the simultaneous detection of all three pathogens. The screening of dilution series generated from plant total nucleic acid extracts with these new assays typically led to detection at levels 10- to 100-fold more sensitive than the conventional PCR assays currently used. These new tools will allow the rapid detection of beet leafhopper-associated pathogens in both plant and insect specimens and will have the potential to be used in diagnostic laboratories seeking to disseminate fast and accurate results to growers for implementation in their insect pest monitoring programs.
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