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Vector status of three leafhopper species for Australian lucerne yellows phytoplasma

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The leafhoppers Orosius argentatus (Evans), Austroagallia torrida (Evans) and Batracomorphus angustatus (Osborn) were used in transmission tests to determine their vector status for the phytoplasma associated with Australian lucerne yellows (ALuY). Caged, seed-grown lucerne plants were monitored for foliar symptom expression after feeding by leafhoppers transferred from ALuY symptomatic lucerne plants. Twelve of 25 plants developed phytoplasma disease-like symptoms including stunting and yellowing. The most pronounced foliar symptoms were displayed by five plants that had been fed on by O. argentatus and four plants that had been fed on by A. torrida. One plant, fed on by O. argentatus, showed the distinctive root symptoms of ALuY. A phytoplasma was identified by electron microscopy in two plants fed on by O. argentatus and one by A. torrida. For each group of plants that had been fed on by a single leafhopper species, one plant was phytoplasma positive as determined by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using universal primers. The phytoplasma detected by PCR in the plant fed on by A. torrida was identified by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis as the tomato big bud (TBB) phytoplasma. The PCR product from two plants fed on by B. angustatus and O. argentatus were too faint for RFLP analysis. PCR assays were conducted on DNA extracted from the head and thorax of each leafhopper species from transmission tests and from field-collected insects, but no phytoplasma DNA was detected. These findings suggest O. argentatus is a vector of the ALuY pathogen and A. torrida is a vector of the TBB phytoplasma.
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Keywords: Austroagallia torrida; Batracomorphus angustatus; Orosius argentatus; PCR; RFLP; transmission

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Pest Biology and Management Group, The University of Sydney, PO Box 883, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia. 2: NSW Agriculture, Orange Agricultural Institute, Forest Road, Orange, NSW 2800, Australia. 3: NSW Agriculture, PO Box 369, Forbes, NSW 2871, Australia.

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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