Poster Presentation Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

Outbreak of yellow crinkle disease of Papaya in Queensland (#329)

Nandita Pathania 1 , Lynton Vawdery 1 , Donna Chambers 1 , Visnja Steele 2
  1. Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Mareeba, QUEENSLAND, Australia
  2. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 41 Boggo road, Dutton park, Queensland, Australia

A recent outbreak of papaya yellow crinkle (PpYC) disease Queensland has significantly affected production within the entire papaya industry. It has led to 15‐80% plant loss in many plantings on the wet tropical coast between Cardwell and Mossman; 15-20% in the Mareeba and Dimbulah areas .This disease is caused by a phytoplasma and is transmitted by leafhoppers. Samples of PpYC and insects were collected from disease affected farms in Mareeba and Innisfail areas and analysed for phytoplasma using nested and Real time PCR. The phytoplasma was detected in symptomatic PpYC plants and insect samples. Two related strains; tomato big bud (TBB) and sweet potato little leaf variant (SPLL- V4) of Candidatus Phytoplasma australasia (16SrII-D) are commonly associated with PpYC in Australia. Further sequencing and RFLP studies are being carried out to confirm the phytoplasma group and variation among prevalent strain/s of phytoplasma in these samples. The leafhoppers collected were tentatively identified as Balclutha incisa (Matsumura) and Cicadulina bimaculata (Evans) (Cicadellidae). The planthoppers were tentatively identified as Falcotoya aurinia Fennah or Toya dryope (Kirkaldy) (Delphacidae). Cicadulina bimaculata (Evans) and Toya dryope (Kirkaldy) are   known vectors of phytoplasmas. The detection of phytoplasma in these samples was of concern as it showed there was potential for further spread of the disease if environmental conditions (the drying of surrounding vegetation) favoured the insect vectors feeding in the papaya. Insect and plant samples are being collected weekly to better understand the relationship between weather conditions, insect vectors and disease incidence. Possible management strategies include, the use of border trap plants which are then sprayed with insecticide, crop netting, physical barriers to control movement of the insect vectors, barrier sprays to prevent the feeding of the vector, reflective mulches to deter the insect vector and clean planting material.