Transmission efficiency of 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum' and potato zebra chip disease progress in relation to pathogen titer, vector numbers, and feeding sites.
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ABSTRACT With diseases caused by vector-borne plant pathogens, acquisition and inoculation are two primary stages of the transmission, which can determine vector efficiency in spreading the pathogen. The present study was initiated to quantify acquisition and inoculation successes of 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum', the etiological agent of zebra chip disease of potato, by its psyllid vector, Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae). Acquisition success was evaluated in relation to feeding site on the host plant as well as the acquisition access period. Inoculation success was evaluated in relation to vector number (1 and 4) on the plants. Acquisition success was influenced by the feeding site on the plant. The highest acquisition success occurred when insects had access to the whole plant. The results of the inoculation study indicated that the rate of successfully inoculated plants increased with the vector number. Plants inoculated with multiple psyllids had higher bacterial titer at the point of inoculation. Although disease incubation period was significantly shorter in plants inoculated with multiple psyllids, this effect was heterogeneous across experimental blocks, and was independent of pathogen quantity detected in the leaflets 3 days postinoculation. Disease progress was not affected by bacterial quantity injected or psyllid numbers.