Detection and analysis of the bacterium, Xylella fastidiosa, in glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis, populations in Texas
The glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripeninis Germar (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), is a xylophagous insect that is an endemic pest of several economically important plants in Texas. H. vitripennis is the main vector of Xylella fastidiosa Wells (Xanthomonadales: Xanthomonadaceae), the bacterium that causes Pierce's disease of grapevine and can travel long distances putting much of Texas grape production at risk. Understanding the movement of H. vitripennis populations capable of transmitting X. fastidiosa into Pierce's-disease-free areas is critical for developing a management program for Pierce's disease. To that end, the USDA-APHIS has developed a program to sample vineyards across Texas to monitor populations of H. vitripennis. From this sampling, H. vitripennis collected during 2005 and 2006 over the months of May, June, and July from eight vineyards in different regions of Texas were recovered from yellow sticky traps and tested for the presence of X. fastidiosa. The foregut contents were vacuum extracted and analyzed using RT-PCR to determine the percentage of H. vitripennis within each population that harbor X. fastidiosa and have the potential to transmit this pathogen. H. vitripennis from vineyards known to have Pierce's disease routinely tested positive for the presence of X. fastidiosa. While almost all H. vitripennis collected from vineyards with no history of Pierce's disease tested negative for the presence of the pathogen, three individual insects tested positive. Furthermore, all three insects were determined, by DNA sequencing, to be carrying a strain of X. fastidiosa homologous to known Pierce's disease strains, signifying them as a risk factor for new X. fastidiosa infections.