Weedy Hosts and Prevalence of Potential Leafhopper Vectors (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) of a Phytoplasma (16SrIX group) Associated With Huanglongbing Symptoms in Citrus Groves

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Huanglongbing (HLB) is a severe citrus (Citrus spp.) disease associated with the bacteria genus Candidatus Liberibacter, detected in Brazil in 2004. Another bacterium was found in association with HLB symptoms and characterized as a phytoplasma belonging to the 16SrIX group. The objectives of this study were to identify potential leafhopper vectors of the HLB-associated phytoplasma and their host plants. Leafhoppers were sampled every other week for 12 mo with sticky yellow cards placed at two heights (0.3 and 1.5 m) in the citrus tree canopy and by using a sweep net in the ground vegetation of two sweet orange, Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck, groves infected by the HLB-phytoplasma in Sao Paulo state. Faunistic analyses indicated one Agalliinae (Agallia albidula Uhler) and three Deltocephalinae [Balclutha hebe (Kirkaldy), Planicephalus flavicosta (Stal), and Scaphytopius (Convelinus) marginelineatus (Stal)] species, as the most abundant and frequent leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Visual observations indicated an association of leafhopper species with some weeds and the influence of weed species composition on leafhopper abundance in low-lying vegetation. S. marginelineatus and P. flavicosta were more frequent on Sida rhombifolia L. and Althernantera tenella Colla, respectively, whereas A. albidula was observed more often on Conyza bonariensis (L.) Cronq. and B. hebe only occurred on grasses. DNA samples of field-collected S. marginelineatus were positive by polymerase chain reaction and sequencing tests for the presence of the HLB-phytoplasma group, indicating it as a potential vector. The association of leafhoppers with their hosts may be used in deciding which management strategies to adopt against weeds and diseases in citrus orchards.


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