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|Bactericera cockerelli, feeds on a potato and infects it with Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum |
Bactericera cockerelli, also known as the potato psyllid, is a potato/tomato psyllid native to southern North America. As its name suggests, it is commonly found on potato and tomato crops, where feeding of the nymphs causes a condition called psyllid yellows, presumed to be the result of a toxin.
The pest has caused significant loss in potato yields during periods of major population increase. Maximum potato yield loss appears to be related to infestations occurring early in the growing season, or on crops with a significant leaf canopy by summer. The psyllids are not heat tolerant and it is thought they survive summer temperatures in crops with sufficient leaf canopy through summer to offer shade.
The host range is reputed to be very wide, with many species from up to 20 genera recorded. Breeding hosts are generally recognised as being restricted primarily to Solanaceae, including important crop and common weed species, and a few species of Convolvulaceae, including bindweed and sweet potato.
Zebra chip is a recently diagnosed disease of potatoes associated with psyllid infestation and caused by species of the gram-negative bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter. The tubers frequently have discolouration which becomes more clear during frying of chips. This disease causes very significant losses to farmers when it occurs as the potatoes are not suitable for making into chips or fries.
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