Stone fruits are a multibillion-dollar industry for the United States and Canada, one that has repeatedly suffered significant economic losses due to outbreaks of the X-disease phytoplasma (‘ Candidatus Phytoplasma pruni’) over the last century. Orchards and entire production areas have been abandoned, with corresponding losses to growers, fruit packers, and consumers. The most recent outbreak, in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, resulted in an estimated $65 million (USD) loss in revenue between 2015 and 2020 and is only increasing in incidence. Already present across much of the continental United States and Canada, the phytoplasma has a broad host range beyond stone fruit and is transmitted by at least eight leafhopper species, therefore stone fruit production in every state is at significant risk. This recovery plan was produced as part of the National Plant Disease Recovery System and is intended to provide a review of pathogen biology, assess the status of critical recovery components, and identify disease management research, extension, and education needs.
A survey of weeds was undertaken in a palm nursery affected by lethal bronzing (LB) to identify a reservoir host of the causal phytoplasma. Three common species were identified; Urochloa maxima (Guineagrass), Sporobolus indicus (smut grass), and Cyperus esculentus (yellow nutsedge) and sampled over a period of 2 years. Each species was sampled 36 times and all three species were negative for the LB phytoplasma. However, three specimens of C. esculentus tested positive for the phytoplasma species ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma brasiliense’. These findings represent the first documented case of ‘Ca. P. brasiliense’ in North America, specifically in Florida, U.S.A., as well as a new host record for the phytoplasma and the first monocot host documented. Because of the impact this phytoplasma has on papaya and hibiscus in South America, it presents a unique threat to ornamental and agricultural sectors in south Florida. An area-wide survey for the phytoplasma and potential vectors is recommended.
Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening disease is the most devastating disease of citrus worldwide. This disease, caused by the bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas), leads to low fruit quality and unproductive trees. In 2008, HLB was found in a residential citrus tree in Savannah, Georgia, and, as a result, the state has been quarantined for this disease since 2009. Nonetheless, little is known about the distribution of CLas within Georgia, even though the commercial planting of citrus in Georgia has increased exponentially in recent years. In 2019, 94 samples from commercial and residential citrus trees within 11 counties in coastal and southern Georgia were collected and tested for the presence of CLas. Molecular testing results revealed the presence of CLas in three counties where HLB had not been previously reported and in 9% of samples overall. This is the first definitive report confirming HLB in southern Georgia counties besides those along the coast.
Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, associated with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas), is primarily spread via infected citrus nursery trees and by infective Asian citrus psyllid, the insect vector. Recently, the Texas Department of Agriculture initiated regulations requiring commercial and retail citrus nurseries in Texas to transition from traditional open-field to enclosed facilities with insect-resistant screens to mitigate the risk of nurseries serving as sources of CLas. Although several nursery production facilities have adopted this regulation, non-enclosed nurseries persist and pose a significant threat to the citrus industry as potential sources of CLas. A systematic survey for HLB was embarked on in a semi-open nursery facility in South Texas in April 2014. Leaf tissue samples taken from 94 trees representing 5% of the total number of potted trees in the nursery were tested for CLas by quantitative and conventional PCR assays. Of 94 trees tested, 3.2% (3 trees) were positive for CLas by both assays. The presence of CLas in the PCR-positive samples was confirmed by multi-locus sequence analyses. The results represent the first report of HLB in a nursery facility in Texas, and underscore the need for more intensive surveillance for HLB in citrus nursery stock as an integral component of HLB mitigation efforts in Texas. Accepted for publication 27 August 2014. Published 15 December 2014.
Wampee (Clausena lansium Skeels) is native to southern China and Southeast Asia. Wampee trees are attractive, with grape-like fruits and a muscat taste and are popular in home gardens. Like other members of Rutaceae, wampee has long been suspected to have yellow shoot disease or Huanglongbing (HLB) and Diaphorina citri, the disease vector, was capable of a long-term survival on Wampee. The authors recommend that eradication of wampee trees surrounding citrus orchards should be part of the overall management of citrus HLB. Accepted for publication 20 December 2007. Published 19 April 2007.