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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Poplarville, Mississippi » Southern Horticultural Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #339816

Research Project: Production and Disease and Pest Management of Horticultural Crops

Location: Southern Horticultural Research

Title: Xylella fastidiosa in rabbiteye blueberry: A newly studied host of an old foe

item Smith, Barbara

Submitted to: Louisiana Agriculture
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/20/2017
Publication Date: 8/9/2017
Citation: Ferguson, M., Clark, C.A., Smith, B.J. 2017. Xylella fastidiosa in rabbiteye blueberry: A newly studied host of an old foe. Louisiana Agriculture. 61(2):33.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa causes a number of plant diseases, including bacterial leaf scorch of southern highbush blueberry. In Louisiana, X. fastidiosa has been detected in rabbiteye blueberry orchards, and we wanted to know if it affected yield in rabbiteye blueberry plants. We detected X. fastidiosa at only 2 of 17 blueberry farms surveyed in Louisiana and found a strong association between detection of X. fastidiosa and yield loss. Rabbiteye blueberry plants in which we detected X. fastidiosa had less than half the yield as plants in which we did not detect the pathogen. We investigated the possibility that other factors, including Phytophthora root rot, nematodes, soil pH, and soil nutrient levels, could have affected productivity and did not find any that appeared to be directly responsible for the observed reduction in yield. Symptoms observed in infected plants included early fall colors (yellowing and reddening of leaves), a gradual dieback and eventual death of plants. Genetic comparison of X. fastidiosa from rabbiteye blueberries in Louisiana to X. fastidiosa strains from other plant hosts showed all were within a group that has been found in a limited number of hosts including southern highbush blueberry in Georgia and in two wild hosts in Texas. Because infected rabbiteye blueberry plants are a potential source of infection for southern highbush blueberry cultivars, we recommend that growers only plant clean rabbiteye blueberry plants from a reliable source.