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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wapato, Washington » Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #237417

Title: Phenotypic and Etiological Differences Between Psyllid Yellows and Zebra Chip Diseases of Potatoes

item Munyaneza, Joseph - Joe
item Crosslin, James
item Buchman, Jeremy

Submitted to: American Journal of Potato Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/7/2009
Publication Date: 2/1/2010
Citation: Sengoda, V.G., Munyaneza, J.E., Crosslin, J., Buchman, J.L., Pappu, H.R. 2010. Phenotypic and Etiological Differences Between Psyllid Yellows and Zebra Chip Diseases of Potatoes. American Journal of Potato Research. 87:41-49.

Interpretive Summary: Zebra chip (ZC) is an emerging and damaging potato disease that is causing millions of dollars in losses to the potato industry in the southwestern United States, Mexico, Central America, and New Zealand. Psyllids yellows, another important disease of potato, produces aboveground plant symptoms that strongly resemble those of ZC, making it difficult to distinguish the two diseases under field conditions. Both diseases are associated with the potato psyllid but seem to be caused by different agents. Researchers at USDA-ARS Wapato, Prosser, and Washington State University conducted studies to demonstrate psyllid vectoring of both diseases and to compare symptoms and development of the two diseases. It was determined that ZC symptoms were associated with the bacterium Liberibacter, whereas those of psyllid yellows were not due to the presence of this pathogen in affected plants. Tubers from Liberibacter-infected potato plants exhibited typical symptoms of ZC infection, but tubers from psyllid yellows affected plants did not. Furthermore, results indicated that ZC-infected plants tend to die quickly, in contrast to plants affected by psyllid yellows disease. Information from this research will help affected potato producers reduce damage caused by these diseases by effectively monitoring and controlling the potato psyllid.

Technical Abstract: Both potato psyllid yellows and Zebra chip (ZC) potato diseases are associated with the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli (Sulc). Aboveground plant symptoms of both diseases are similar but there is a difference in symptoms in potato tubers. ZC has recently been associated with a new species of the bacterium liberibacter, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, also known as Ca. Liberibacter psyllaurous. Mechanisms by which the potato psyllid might cause either ZC or potato psyllid yellows symptoms are not understood. Insect transmission studies were conducted to demonstrate psyllid vectoring of both diseases and to compare symptoms and development of the two diseases. Potato plants were exposed to both liberibacter-free and liberibacter-carrying potato psyllids and later evaluated for plant and tuber symptoms. These plants and tubers were then tested for liberibacter by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique. In addition, potato plants exhibiting severe psyllid yellows/ZC-like symptoms were collected from a commercial potato field heavily infested with the potato psyllid and tested for liberibacter. PCR testing detected Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum in ZC symptomatic plants and tubers resulting from exposure to liberibacter-carrying psyllids. Despite development of foliar symptoms that resemble those of ZC in plants exposed to liberibacter-free psyllids, no liberibacter was detected in these plants with psyllid yellows. Moreover, tubers from these plants with psyllid yellows did not exhibit any symptoms of ZC infection and tested negative for the bacterium. No liberibacter was detected in plants or tubers collected from the psyllid-infested potato field, suggesting that the observed symptoms were due to psyllid yellows. Furthermore, potato plants that were infected with liberibacter died sooner than plants that were infected with psyllid yellows. Although an association between liberibacter and ZC has been established, no pathogen is yet associated with potato psyllid yellows and mechanisms by which psyllid yellows symptoms are induced by the potato psyllid remain unclear.