Huanglongbing is one of the most devastating diseases of citrus (Citrus spp.). One management tactic against huanglongbing is aggressive management of the vector, the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama), with insecticide applications. However, D. citri in abandoned groves are not controlled and therefore pose a risk of reinfestation for nearby commercial citrus. These abandoned groves could serve as a reservoir for the vector, as well as a source of the presumed causal agent for huanglongbing in Florida, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las). The current study was conducted to determine the degree to which Las is present in abandoned Florida citrus groves and to compare relative inoculum levels in nearby managed and abandoned groves during times of the year when D. citri are abundant (June, July, and August). In addition, the movement of Las by dispersing D. citri adults from inner and edge rows of abandoned grove plots to the corresponding rows of managed plots was quantified during the same 3 mo. The results of the current study confirmed the presence of Las in both D. citri and plant tissue in abandoned groves at statistically equivalent levels to those in nearby managed groves. The mean number of D. citri adults dispersing from abandoned to managed grove plots ranged from 7.25 ± 1.70 to 70.25 ± 21.25 per 4-d intervals. Of those, the mean number of dispersing D. citri adults that were carrying the Las pathogen ranged from 1.00 ± 0.58 to 1.50 ± 0.50. Our results indicate that abandoned citrus groves are a significant source of Ca. Las and that dispersing D. citri move this pathogen into nearby managed groves.
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Vol. 103 • No. 6