‘Candidatus Phytoplasma palmae’ detected in Cedusa sp. (Homoptera: Derbidae) in Jamaica
In the Caribbean, lethal yellowing is a severe disease which has killed millions of palms over the last 40 years. In the eastern part of Jamaica, the disease has destroyed all Malayan Dwarf coconut trees. In Florida (US), a planthopper, Myndus crudus (Homoptera: Cixiidae – EU Annexes) was shown to be a vector of the disease, but in Jamaica no vector had been be identified. Recent studies carried out in Jamaica showed that the predominant insects found on coconut were planthoppers belonging to the genus Cedusa (Homoptera: Derbidae). The species involved remain to be identified. 43 specimens of Cedusa sp. were collected from 13 major coconut-growing locations in Jamaica and individually tested for the presence of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma palmae’ (EPPO A1 List), using nested-PCR with specific primers. The phytoplasma could be detected in 13 insect specimens. RFLP studies showed that 6 of them carried a different strain. Although further studies are needed to better understand the possible role of Cedusa sp. in transmitting the disease, this is the first time that a potential vector of ‘Ca. Phytoplasma palmae’ has been identified in Jamaica.
Brown SE, Been BO, McLaughlin WA (2006) Detection and variability of the lethal yellowing group (16Sr IV) phytoplasmas in the Cedusa sp. (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Derbidae) in Jamaica. Annals of Applied Biology 149(1), 53-62.