Development and validation of a real-time PCR assay for the glassy-winged sharpshooter Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae)
The glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis) is an invasive pest organism, which is found throughout Central America and has recently invaded a few countries in the Pacific Islands. As a carrier of the highly virulent plant pathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, it is of great economic significance to horticulture and is estimated to cost Californian vineyards over US$100 million per year in control and losses. New Zealand is currently free from this pest, but its recent spread through the Pacific has raised concerns of it establishing in New Zealand, potentially as a result of introduction through human travel. We report here a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay for the rapid identification of H. vitripennis. The assay was extensively validated in silico then optimized and tested against a range of Cicadellidae species, both internationally collected and local to New Zealand. This assay was able to correctly identify H. vitripennis samples, and distinguish between H. vitripennis and close relatives, such as the smoke-tree sharpshooter (Homalodisca liturata) and will be of great benefit to New Zealand biosecurity.