Transmission of the citrus variegated chlorosis bacterium Xylella fastidiosa with the sharpshooter Oncometopia nigricans
Citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) is an economically important, destructive disease in Brazil and is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa Wells. The bacterium has been found to be transmitted in Brazil by sharpshooter leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). Sharpshooters are present in most citrus growing areas of the United States. The sharpshooter leafhopper; Oncometopia nigricans Walker, frequently is found feeding on citrus in Florida. This sharpshooter transmits the X. fastidiosa strains that cause Pierce's disease of grape and ragweed stunt; Research was initiated to determine if O. nigricans was capable of vectoring the X. fastidiosa that causes CVC. In 59 different transmission tests, using 1 to 57 insects per test, transmission of the bacterium was observed 12 times (20.3%). Symptom development in the greenhouse was not a reliable indicator of transmission. Transmission was verified by specific polymerase chain reaction-based assays. Individual insects were able to transmit the bacterium. This information on sharpshooter transmission of CVC is needed to assess the threat posed by the CVC disease to the citrus industries in the United States.