‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) causes disease symptoms and economic losses in potato, tomato, and other solanaceous crops in North America. Lso is transmitted to plants by the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli, which occurs as distinct haplotypes named western, central, and northwestern that differ in the presence or absence of the bacterial endosymbiont, Wolbachia. Previous work showed that all three vector haplotypes can transmit Lso, but it was not clear whether acquisition and transmission rates of Lso were equal among the haplotypes. The goal of our study was to compare Lso infection rates among psyllids of the western, central, and northwestern haplotypes. Using data collected from several years of periodic testing of Lso infection of laboratory-reared potato psyllid colonies, we showed that psyllids of the western and central haplotypes are more likely to harbor Lso than are psyllids of the northwestern haplotype. We then used greenhouse assays to demonstrate that psyllids of the northwestern haplotype are less likely to acquire and transmit Lso than those of the western haplotype. Lso infection rates corresponded with Wolbachia infection among the three psyllid haplotypes. The Wolbachia-infected central and western haplotypes were more likely to harbor and transmit Lso than the Wolbachia-free northwestern haplotype. Results demonstrate that potato psyllids of the western and central haplotypes pose a greater risk for spread of Lso in crops and suggest a pattern between infection with Lso and Wolbachia in potato psyllid.
AbstractDuring the past two decades, a high mortality of coconut palms was observed in the coastal areas of Equatorial Guinea. Reportedly, the palm population has been reduced by 60%–70%, and coconut production has decreased accordingly. To identify the cause of the mortality, a survey was carried out in April 2021 in various localities of the coconut belt. Molecular analyses carried out on 16S rRNA and secA genes detected phytoplasma presence in the majority of the samples. Sequencing and BLAST search of the 16S rRNA gene sequences showed >99% identity of the detected phytoplasmas to ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma palmicola’. The RFLP analyses of 16S ribosomal gene using Tru1I and TaqI enzymes led to assign these phytoplasmas to subgroup 16SrXXII‐A. In all samples that tested positive, including one from a hybrid coconut palm and two from oil palm the same phytoplasma was identified. The phylogenetic analyses of 16S rRNA and secA genes confirmed respectively 99.98%–100% and 97.94%–100% identity to ‘Ca. P. palmicola’. RFLP analyses using MboII enzyme on the secA gene amplicon differentiated the phytoplasma found in Equatorial Guinea from those present in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Equatorial Guinean phytoplasma strain resulted to be identical to the strains from Mozambique, confirming the presence of a geographic differentiation among phytoplasma strains in the coastal areas of Western and Central Africa. The identified phytoplasma is different from the ‘Ca. P. palmicola’ strains found in Ghana and Ivory Coast and represents the first identification a 16SrXXII‐A strain in Equatorial Guinea and in Central Africa. Strict monitoring and surveillance procedures for early detection of the pathogen are strongly recommended to reduce its impact and further spread in the country and permit the recovery of coconut plantations.
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.
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.