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Study of the transmission of stolbur phytoplasma to different crop species, by Macrosteles quadripunctulatus


Dr A Batlle, Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentaries (IRTA), Ctra Cabrils Km 2, 08348 Cabrils, Barcelona, Spain.


In an epidemiological study conducted on commercial agricultural plots affected by stolbur phytoplasma in Northern and Central Spain, different species of leafhoppers and planthoppers were identified as potential vectors of the phytoplasma. They included individuals of Macrosteles quadripunctulatus infected by stolbur phtytoplasma in most of the locations. The potential of this species as a vector of stolbur was evaluated in this work. The transmission trials were carried out on healthy plants of Catharanthus roseus (periwinkle), Lycopersicon esculentum (tomato), Daucus carota (carrot), Lactuca sativa (lettuce) and Vitis vinifera (grapevine). The first symptoms of infection in these plants were observed 2 weeks after the inoculation period in tomato and periwinkle, and after 4 weeks in carrot. Only one of five grapevines showed phytoplasma symptoms. PCR analysis was used to verify the ability of M. quadripunctulatus in transmitting stolbur phytoplasma in the plant species tested. The phytoplasma was not detected in lettuce or in the healthy control plants. Studies of stolbur transmission to insect-feeding medium were also conducted and indicated that M. quadripunctulatus acquires and was capable of transmitting the phytoplasma after it fed during a single day on infected plants followed by a 19-day latent period on healthy plants.