Submitted to: Georgia Academy of Sciences Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 27, 2008
Publication Date: March 14, 2008
Citation: Hunter, W.B. 2008. Viral pathogens of Glassy-winged sharpshooters [abstract]. The 72nd Annual meeting of the Florida Academy of Sciences, in conjunction with te 85th Annual meeting of the Georgia Academy of Science, March 14-15, Jacksonville, FL. p. 5. Technical Abstract: A newly discovered viral pathogen to the glassy-winged sharpshooter, GWSS, Homalodisca vitripennis, (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) was characterized. The virus genome was sequenced, and the path of infection into the leafhopper was determined to be through the midgut tissues. The virus occurs naturally in the wild and has potential as a biological control agent for the management of leafhoppers. There are currently no viral biological control agents available to manage leafhopper pests. Leafhoppers like the GWSS, are the main vectors of plant diseases such as Pierce’s disease of grapes, which are caused by a plant infecting bacterium, Xylella fastidiosa. The leafhopper-infecting virus was shown to be infecting field populations of GWSS across several different states from Florida to California. Infected adult GWSS were dissected and their midgut tissues examined. Analysis of genetic sequences from the salivary glands, and midguts dissected from field collected GWSS showed high levels of the virus in the midgut tissues. Examination of tissues by electron microscopy supports the midgut tissues as the entry site and it also appears to be the primary tissue supporting virus replication. Viruses serve as naturally occurring biological control agents and can reduce GWSS where the virus occurs. Naturally occurring leafhopper viruses may have further uses towards reducing the spread of Pierce’s disease through its novel use as a biological control agent of numerous leafhopper pests.