Ground vegetation survey for Xylella fastidiosa in California almond orchards
Xylella fastidioso is a xylem-limited bacterium that causes almond leaf scorch (ALS), Pierce's disease of grapevines, and other plant diseases. We surveyed ground vegetation in ALS-infected almond orchards in California's Central Valley for the presence of this bacterium. Plant tissue samples were collected throughout a 2-year period and processed for the presence of X. fastidiosa using restriction enzyme digestion of RST31 and RST33 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products and bacterial culture on selective media. Overall disease incidence was low in the ground vegetation species; only 63 of 1,369 samples tested positive. Of the 38 species of common ground vegetation tested, 11 tested positive for X. fastidiosa, including such common species as shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), filaree (Erodium spp.), cheeseweed (Malva parvifolia), burclover (Medicago polymorpha), annual bluegrass (Poa annua) London rocket (Sisymbrium irio), and chickweed (Stellaria media). There was a seasonal component to bacterial presence, with positive samples found only between November and March. Both ground vegetation and almond trees were most commonly infected with the almond strain of X. fastidiosa (six of seven surveyed sites). ALS-infected almond samples had an X. fastidiosa concentration within previously reported ranges (1.84 x 10(6) to 2.15 x 10(7) CFU/g); however, we were unable to accurately measure X. fastidioso titer in sampled ground vegetation for comparison. These results are discussed with respect to ground vegetation management for ALS control.