Populations of Xylella fastidiosa in plants required for transmission by an efficient vector
Xylella fastidiosa, a xylem-limited bacterium that causes Pierce's disease (PD) of grapevine and other diseases, is transmitted efficiently by xylem-feeding leafhoppers. Acquisition of a PD strain of X fastidiosa by the blue-green sharpshooter (BGSS) from five plant host species-grapevine (Vitis vinifera), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor), California mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), watergrass (Echinochloa crus-galli), and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon)-was tested at various time intervals after vector inoculation. The minimum incubation periods in plant hosts before BGSS acquired X. fastidiosa were 4, 22, 29, and 25 days for grapevine, blackberry, mugwort, and watergrass, respectively. There were no transmissions by vectors or recoveries of X. fastidiosa by culturing from Bermuda grass in 133 attempts, including 80 attempts with the green sharpshooter, Draeculacephala minerva. The first acquisitions and subsequent transmissions by BGSS occurred after X. fastidiosa multiplied to a population of about 10(4) CFU/g of stem tissue. Higher populations of bacteria in plants resulted in higher rates of transmission. In grapevine, the rate of transmission increased over time (4.5% in the first 10 days to 55% after day 25) as the maximum number of viable CFU of X. fastidiosa recovered by culturing also increased (from 5 x 10(5) CFU/g during the first 10 days to 5 x 10(8) after day 25).