C. A. Ledbetter, and
J. Chen, USDA-ARS, San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center, Parlier, CA 93648; and
A. Shrestha, Department of Plant Science, California State University, Fresno, CA 93740
Management of almond leaf scorch disease requires knowledge of all possible infection pathways. The disease is caused by the xylem-limited bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which is transmitted by several species of sharpshooters. The objectives of this research were to elucidate the fate of bacteria in planta after inoculations in almond nursery plants and to determine patterns of insect vector population dynamics and temporal distribution of X. fastidiosa–infected plants relative to host plant assemblages in habitats surrounding commercial nurseries. In an experimental nursery, disease incidence was markedly affected by rootstock type. Prior to bud grafting, ‘Nemaguard’ rootstock seedlings were not susceptible to bacterial infection. After bud grafting with a susceptible scion (‘Sonora’), scions were susceptible to infection regardless of rootstock genotype. Surveys near commercial nurseries revealed that only habitats with permanent grass cover sustained vector populations throughout the season. A total of 87 plant samples tested positive for X. fastidiosa (6.3%) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), with a higher number of X. fastidiosa–infected plants found in weedy alfalfa fields than in other habitat types. Among plant species infected by X. fastidiosa, 33% were winter annuals, 45% were biennials or perennials, and 22% were summer annuals. Collectively, these findings identified a potential pathway for X. fastidiosa infection of almonds in nursery situations.