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, accurate results to growers for implementation in their insect pest monitoring programs.
Bamboo is used for making structures, furniture, handicrafts, and ropes, as well as a source of food in the Philippines. One of the emerging diseases of bamboo in the country is the bamboo witches’ broom (BWB), which has been occasionally noted in three genera of bamboo – including Dendrocalamus, Gigantochloa, and Schizostachyum from various provinces in the Philippines (Ilocos Norte, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, and South Cotabato) since the 1990s. However, studies and information about BWB in the country remain lacking and largely unexplored. In this study, we report a similar disease affecting Dendrocalamus and Gigantochloa bamboo species from Bohol and Davao and – for the first time – in Dendrocalamus merrillianus ("bayog") and Bambusa spinosa ("kawayan-tinik") from Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya. As a result of the surveys conducted from 1999–2019, the disease is now identified in six species across four genera of bamboo – namely, Gigantochloa spp. (G. levis and G. atter), Dendrocalamus spp. (D. asper and D. merrillianus), Schizostachyum lumampao, and Bambusa spinosa recorded in 11 provinces in the Philippines. The BWB symptoms include clustering of leaves forming a rosette-like structure, leaf proliferation, excessive limb formation from a single node, and shortening of internodes. Nested PCR using the universal primers P1/P7 and R16MF2/R1 targeting the phytoplasma 16S ribosomal RNA gene revealed positive amplification in five symptomatic BWB samples from Isabela, Philippines. Subsequent sequencing (~ 1.3kbp) and phylogenetic analysis using the representative BWB isolates from Isabela revealed > 98.65% genetic similarity and clustering to Candidatus Phytoplasma luffae, which belongs to the 16SrVIII group (Loofah Witches’ Broom Group). This paper determined the distribution of BWB in different species of bamboo in the Philippines, as well as the association of 'Ca. Phytoplasma luffae'-related strain (16SrVIII) to BWB.
Huanglongbing (HLB), referred to as citrus greening disease, is a bacterial disease impacting citrus production worldwide and is fatal to young trees and mature trees of certain varieties. In some areas, the disease is devastating the citrus industry. A successful solution to HLB will be measured in economics: citrus growers need treatments that improve tree health, fruit production, and most importantly, economic yield. The profitability of citrus groves is the ultimate metric that truly matters when searching for solutions to HLB. Scientific approaches used in the laboratory, greenhouse, or field trials are critical to the discovery of those solutions and to estimate the likelihood of success of a treatment aimed at commercialization. Researchers and the citrus industry use a number of proxy evaluations of potential HLB solutions; understanding the strengths and limitations of each assay, as well as how best to compare different assays, is critical for decision-making to advance therapies into field trials and commercialization. This perspective aims to help the reader compare and understand the limitations of different proxy evaluation systems based on the treatment and evaluation under consideration. The researcher must determine the suitability of one or more of these metrics to identify treatments and predict the usefulness of these treatments in having an eventual impact on citrus production and HLB mitigation. As therapies advance to field trials in the next few years, a reevaluation of these metrics will be useful to guide future research efforts on strategies to mitigate HLB and vascular bacterial pathogens in other perennial crops.