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Association of Bactericera cockerelli (Homoptera: Psyllidae) with “Zebra Chip,” a New Potato Disease in Southwestern United States and Mexico

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A new defect of potato, Solanum tuberosum L., “zebra chip,” so named for the characteristic symptoms that develop in fried chips from infected potato tubers, has recently been documented in several southwestern states of the United States, in Mexico, and in Central America. This defect is causing millions of dollars in losses to both potato producers and processors. Zebra chip plant symptoms resemble those caused by potato purple top and psyllid yellows diseases. Experiments were conducted to elucidate the association between the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Sulc) (Homoptera: Psyllidae) and zebra chip by exposing clean potato plants to this insect under greenhouse and field conditions. Potato plants and tubers exhibiting zebra chip symptoms were tested for phytoplasmas by polymerase chain reaction. Potato psyllids collected from infected potato fields also were tested. Results indicated that there was an association between the potato psyllid and zebra chip. Plants exposed to psyllids in the greenhouse and field developed zebra chip. In the greenhouse, 25.8 and 59.2% of tubers exhibited zebra chip symptoms in the raw tubers and fried chips, respectively. In the field, 15 and 57% of tubers showed symptoms in raw tubers and chips, respectively. No zebra chip was observed in tubers from plants that had not been exposed to psyllids, either in the greenhouse or field. No phytoplasmas were detected from potato plants or tubers with zebra chip symptoms, suggesting that these pathogens are not involved in zebra chip. Of the 47 samples of potato psyllids tested, only two tested positive for the Columbia Basin potato purple top phytoplasma.

Keywords: Bactericera cockerelli; phytoplasma; potato; zebra chip

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/0022-0493(2007)100[656:AOBCHP]2.0.CO;2

Publication date: June 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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