Characterization of Xylella fastidiosa strains that cause bacterial leaf scorch of southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum interspecific hybrids), and detection of the pathogen in plants and glassy-winged sharpshooters [Homalodisca vitripennis (
Nissen, Lorna Denise
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Xylella fastidiosa is a genetically diverse species with a wide host range. This xylem limited bacterium was recently proven to cause bacterial leaf scorch of blueberry (BLSB), a new disease of Georgia’s most economically important fruit crop. Since little is known about the strains of X. fastidiosa affecting southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum interspecific hybrids), the objectives of this research were to characterize BLSB strains and develop assays to detect them in plants and the most probable insect vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter [Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar)] (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Published, redesigned and novel primer pairs were used with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to analyze genomic DNA derived from pure cultures and DNA extracts of plant and insect tissue. Methods were developed to reduce PCR inhibition that occurred in extracts. BLSB strains in Georgia were found to be most similar to Dixon, an A-type strain of X. fastidiosa that causes almond leaf scorch.