Characterization and Epidemiological Significance of Potato Plants Grown from Seed Tubers Affected by Zebra Chip Disease.
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An emerging disease of potato in the United States, known as "Zebra Chip" or "Zebra Complex" (ZC), is increasing in scope and threatens to spread further. Here, we report on studies performed to understand the role of tuberborne ZC in the epidemiology of this disease. Depending on variety, up to 44% of ZC-affected seed tubers (ZCST) were viable, producing hair sprouts and weak plants. Chip discoloration in progeny tubers of ZCST was more severe than those from ZC-asymptomatic seed tubers but varied depending on whether progeny tubers or foliage were positive or negative for 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum'. A low percentage of greenhouse-grown plants produced by ZCST tested positive for 'Ca. Liberibacter'. No adult potato psyllids became infective after feeding upon these plants but they did acquire 'Ca. Liberibacter' from field-grown plants produced by ZCST. Plants with new ZC infections near plants produced by ZCST were not significantly different from healthy plants, whereas plants affected with ZC from infectious potato psyllids had significantly more ZC infections near either plants produced by ZCST or healthy plants. We conclude that, in areas where ZC is currently established, plants produced by ZCST do not significantly contribute to ZC incidence and spread within potato fields.