The potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) is native to North America and occurs from Central America to Canada. A new disease of potatoes, Zebra Chip, has recently been associated with potato psyllid occurrence. Potato psyllids transmit a gram-negative α-proteobacter, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, the putative causal agent of Zebra Chip in potatoes. Symptoms of Zebra Chip first appeared in potato plants grown outside of Saltillo, Mexico in 1994, and by 2000, this invasive disease complex was found in potatoes in south Texas. Since then, Zebra Chip has spread northward, throughout the central plains of the US and on the west coast. Potato psyllid population management is complicated by the presence of two biotypes, one of which may be a stronger vector of Ca. L. solanacearum. Improved detection of Ca. L. solanacearum is needed to maintain supply for potatoes in the United States. In this study, potato psyllid biotypes were delineated by melt temperature analysis following Sybr Green qrt-PCR, and then were grouped further into populations using ISSR-PCR. Potato psyllid populations were mapped, and showed a northward migration throughout the 2009 growing season. The putative causal agent of Zebra Chip, Ca. L. solanacearum, was detected using pyrosequencing at low levels. These molecular tools will increase efficiency in the management of potato crops in zones of high probability of interaction with inoculative populations of potato psyllids.

Date of publication

Spring 5-14-2012

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