Short communication. A survey of potential insect vectors of the plant pathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa in three regions of Spain

Joao R. S. Lopes, Blanca B. Landa, Alberto Fereres


The emergence of a rapid-spreading olive disease associated with Xylella fastidiosa in southern Italy represents a high risk to susceptible crops in other countries of the Mediterranean basin, if insect vectors occur in the region. The goal of this study was to identify xylem-feeding Auchenorrhyncha that could potentially act as vectors of X. fastidiosa in three regions of Spain (Andalucía, Murcia and Madrid). Samplings with sweep net and stem tap were carried out in October/2004 on grapevines and adjacent crops (olives, nectarine, citrus, Prunus spp.), ornamental trees and herbaceous weeds. Yellow sticky cards were placed in ten vineyards located across 100 km in Andalucía and in three vineyards distant 10-15 km apart in Murcia. Specimens of frequently-trapped species were tested by nested- or multiplex-PCR for the presence of X. fastidiosa. The Typhlocybinae leafhopper, Austroasca (Jacobiasca) lybica (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) was the most abundant species in vineyards and citrus orchards. Planthoppers (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea) and psyllids (Hemiptera: Psylloidea) were prevalent on olives. Cicadellinae leafhoppers (known as sharpshooters), which are major vectors of X. fastidiosa in the Americas, were not found in the samples. The only potential vectors were spittlebugs (Hemiptera: Cercopoidea) collected on Populus sp., herbaceous and on conifer trees (Pinus halepense); the spittlebug Neophileanus sp. was common on conifer trees adjacent to a vineyard in Jumilla. None of the insect samples tested positive for X. fastidiosa by PCR assays. However, spittlebugs already associated with susceptible crops in Spain may allow fast spread of X. fastidiosa in case this pathogen is introduced.


exotic disease; xylem-limited bacterium; spittlebug vectors; Cercopoidea; epidemiology.

Full Text:



Batlle A, Martínez MA, Lavi-a A, 2000. Occurrence, distribution and epidemiology of Grapevine Yellows in Spain. Eur J Plant Pathol 106: 811–816.

Berisha B, Chen YD, Zhang GY, Xu BY, Chen TA, 1998. Isolation of Pierce's disease bacteria from grapevines in Europe. Eur J Plant Pathol 104: 427–433.

Chang CJ, Garnier M, Zreik L, Rossetti V, Bové JM, 1993. Culture and serological detection of the xylem-limited bacterium causing citrus variegated chlorosis and its identification as a strain of Xylella fastidiosa. Curr Microbiol 27: 137–142.

Ciapina LP, Carareto Alves LM, Lemos EGM, 2004. A nested-PCR assay for detection of Xylella fastidiosa in citrus plants and sharpshooter leafhoppers. J Appl Microbiol 96: 546–551.

De Jong YSDM (ed.), 2013. Fauna Europaea, vers. 2.6. Web Service. Available online in

EFSA, 2013. Statement of EFSA on host plants, entry and spread pathways and risk reduction options for Xylella fastidiosa Wells et al. European Food Safety Authority. EFSA Journal 11(11): 3468. 50 p.EPPO, 2004. Diagnostic protocols for regulated pests: Xylella fastidiosa. European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. OEPP/EPPO Bull 34: 187-192.

EPPO, 2011. PQR-EPPO database on quarantine pests. European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. Available online in

Hoddle M, 2004. The potential adventive geographic range of glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca coagulata and the grape pathogen Xylella fastidiosa: implications for California and other grape growing regions of the world. Crop Prot 23: 691-699.

Hopkins DL, 1989. Xylella fastidiosa: xylem-limited bacterial pathogen of plants. Annu Rev Phytopathol 27: 271-290.

Janse JD, Obradovic A, 2010. Xylella fastidiosa: its biology, diagnosis, control and risks. J Plant Pathol 92: S1.35-S1.48.

Krell RK, Boyd EA, Nay JE, Park YL, Perring TM, 2007. Mechanical and insect transmission of Xylella fastidiosa to Vitis vinifera. Am J Enol Vitic 58: 211-216.

Krugner R, Sisterson MS, Chen JC, Stenger DC, Johnson MW, 2014. Evaluation of olive as a host of Xylella fastidiosa and associated sharpshooter vectors. Plant Disease (in press).

Lopes JRS, Daugherty MP, Almeida RPP. 2009. Context-dependent transmission of a generalist plant pathogen: host species and pathogen strain mediate insect vector competence. Entomol Exp Appl 131: 216–224.

MAGRAMA, 2012. Estadísticas 2012. Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, Madrid, Spain. Available in

Pooler MR, Hartung JS, 1995. Specific PCR detection and identification of Xylella fastidiosa strains causing citrus variegated chlorosis. Curr Microbiol 31: 134-137.

Purcell AH, 1989. Homopteran transmission of xylem-inhabiting bacteria. In: Advances in disease vector research, Vol. 6 (Harris KF, ed). Springer, NY, pp: 243-266.

Rathé AA, Pilkington LJ, Gurr GM, Hoodle MS, Daugherty MP, Constable FE, Luck JE, Powell KS, Fletcher MJ, Edwards OR, 2012. Incursion preparedness: anticipating the arrival of an economically important plant pathogen Xylella fastidiosa Wells (Proteobacteria: Xanthomonadaceae) and the insect vector Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) in Australia. Austr J Entomol 51: 209-220.

Redak RA, Purcell AH, Lopes JRS, Blua MJ, Mizell III RF, Andersen PC, 2004. The biology of xylem fluid-feeding insect vectors of Xylella fastidiosa and their relation to disease epidemiology. Annu Rev Entomol 49: 243-270.

Rodrigues JLM, Silva-Stenico ME, Gomes JE, Lopes JRS, Tsai SM, 2003. Detection and diversity assessment of Xylella fastidiosa in field-collected plant and insect samples by using 16S rRNA and gyrB sequences. Appl Environ Microbiol 69: 4249-4255.

Sabaté J, Lavi-a A, Legorburu J, Fortanete J, Perez De Obanos JJ, Pérez Marín JL, Reyes J, Batlle A, 2007. Incidence of "bois noir" phytoplasma in different wine-growing regions of Spain and its relation to Hyalesthes obsoletus. Bull Insectology 60: 367-368.

Saponari M, Boscia D, Nigro F, Martelli GP, 2013. Identification of DNA sequences related to Xylella fastidiosa in oleander, almond and olive trees exhibiting leaf scorch symptoms in Apulia (Southern Italy). J Plant Pathol 95: 668.

Schaad NW, Postnikova E, Lacy G, Fatmi M, Chang CJ, 2004. Xylella fastidiosa subspecies: X. fastidiosa subsp. piercei subsp. nov., X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex subsp. nov., X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca subsp. nov. Syst Appl Microbiol 27: 290–300.

Wilson MR, Turner JA, Mckamey SH, 2009. Sharpshooter leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). An illustrated checklist. Part 1: Old World Cicadellini–Studies in terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity and systematics from the the National Museum of Wales. BIOTIR Reports 4: 229 pp.

DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2014123-5613