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Forging new tools for the war against Bactericera cockerelli and “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum”: a pathosystem on the move

Ismael Badillo-Vargas: Texas A&M AgriLife Research

<div>The potato psyllid, <em>Bactericera cockerelli</em>, is the insect vector of the fastidious bacterium “<em>Candidatus</em> Liberibacter solanacearum” (Lso). This bacterial pathogen causes diseases in several solanaceous crops, including zebra chip, an economically important disease of potatoes in United States, Mexico and New Zealand. Lso is transmitted in a persistent propagative manner by <em>B. cockerelli</em> where it infects and multiplies in the digestive track, reproductive organs, and salivary glands of its insect vector. The persistent nature of this insect-bacterium interaction complicates matters even more as the vector can potentially be a reservoir of bacterial inoculum in the absence of its cultivated host plants. Currently, vector and pathogen control relies extensively on the use of a limited number of insecticides. This strategy is neither effective or sustainable as recent studies have shown that insecticide resistance development to neonicotinoids by <em>B. cockerelli</em> has already occurred in Texas. Therefore, alternative strategies of control are needed to effectively minimize losses caused by this vector-borne bacterial pathogen. This presentation will feature the evaluation of diverse management strategies with the final goal of developing an integrated pest management program for vegetable production that might have worldwide implications as this pathosystem continues to move across borders into new geographic areas.</div>