Plant Water Stress and Vector Feeding Preference Mediate Transmission Efficiency of a Plant Pathogen

Damien Griessinger 212 views
Text - scientific article/review article


Pathogen spread by arthropod vectors is the outcome of pathogen-vector-plant interactions, as well as how these interactions are impacted by abiotic and biotic factors. While plant water stress impacts each component of the Pierce's disease pathosystem (Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al., insect vectors, and grapevines), the outcome of interactions in relation to pathogen spread is unknown. The objectives of this study were 1) to determine the role of plant water stress on vector acquisition and inoculation of X. fastidiosa under choice and no-choice conditions for source or recipient vines, and 2) to provide insights into the effects of vineyard irrigation regimes on spread of X. fastidiosa by using a host-vector epidemic model. Under no-choice conditions, pathogen acquisition increased as water stress increased in source plants, while inoculation was not affected by water status of recipient vines. Thus, under no-choice conditions, plant water stress increased transmission of X. fastidiosa. However, when vectors had a choice of an uninfected well-watered versus an infected water-stressed grapevine, transmission efficiency declined as water stress levels increased. While our experimental results produced wide uncertainty estimates, the epidemiological modeling suggested a non-linear relationship between water stress and pathogen spread: moderate water stress enhances pathogen spread but severe or no stress produce equivalent spread. In summary, both host plant condition and vector host preference interacted to determine transmission efficiency of X. fastidiosa.


  • Homalodisca vitripennis
  • Vitis vinifera
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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