Phytoplasmas are phloem-restricted plant pathogens transmitted by leafhoppers, planthoppers, and psyllids (Hemiptera). Most known phytoplasma vectors belong to the Cicadellidae, but many are still unknown. Within this family, Empoasca spp. (Typhlocybinae) have tested positive for the presence of some phytoplasmas, and phytoplasma transmission has been proven for one species. The aim of this work was to investigate the ability of Empoasca decipiens Paoli in transmitting chrysanthemum yellows phytoplasma (CYP, “Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris”, 16SrI-B) and Flavescence dorée phytoplasma (FDP, 16SrV-C) to Chrysanthemum carinatum Schousboe (tricolor daisy) and Vicia faba (L.) (broad bean). Euscelidius variegatus Kirschbaum, a known vector of CYP and FDP, was caged together with Em. decipiens on the same source plants as a positive control of acquisition. Em. decipiens acquired CYP from daisies, but not from broad beans, and inoculated the pathogen to daisies with a low efficiency, but not to broad beans. Em. decipiens did not acquire FDP from the broad bean source. Consistent with the low transmission rate, CYP was found in the salivary glands of very few phytoplasma-infected Em. decipiens, indicating these organs represent a barrier to phytoplasma colonization. In the same experiments, the vector Eu. variegatus efficiently acquired both phytoplasmas, and consistently CYP was detected in the salivary glands of most samples of this species. The identity of the CYP strain in leafhoppers and plants was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) -restriction fragment length polymorphism. The CYP titer in Em. decipiens was monitored over time by real-time PCR. The damage caused by Em. decipiens feeding punctures was depicted. Differences in feeding behavior on different plant species may explain the different phytoplasma transmission capability. Em. decipiens proved to be an experimental vector of CYP.
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Vol. 104 • No. 2