Different symptoms in carrots caused by male and female carrot psyllid feeding and infection by ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’

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Abstract

Carrot psyllid Trioza apicalis was recently found to carry the plant pathogenic bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (CLs). To confirm the transmission of bacteria by the psyllids and to dissect the symptoms caused in carrot plants by psyllid feeding and CLs infection, a greenhouse experiment with single psyllids feeding on separate plants was performed. A positive correlation was found between the amount of CLs bacteria in the psyllids and in the corresponding plants exposed to feeding, indicating CLs transmission. The female psyllid feeding caused more severe damage than male feeding, and resulted in a substantial decrease in the root weight. Female psyllid feeding also significantly reduced the carrot leaf weight and increased the number of curled leaves. The number of curled leaves was also increased by the nymphs when their number exceeded 10 per plant. A high titre of CLs bacteria significantly reduced root weight, while not affecting the weight or number of the leaves. However, the amount of CLs correlated with the number of leaves showing discolouration symptoms. Microscopy of infected carrot plants revealed that the phloem tubes throughout the whole plant, from leaf veins to the root tip, were colonized by bacteria. The bacterial cells appeared to be long and thin flexible rods with tapering ends and a transversally undulated surface. Microscopy also revealed collapsed phloem cells in the infected carrots. Damage in the phloem vessels is likely to reduce the sucrose transport from source leaves to the root, explaining the observed leaf discolouration and reduction in root weight.

Ancillary