Pierce's Disease
Research Updates


What is Pierce's Disease?

Pierce's Disease is a bacterial infection, which is spread by bugs that feed on grapevines, particularly the "glassy winged sharpshooter." Grapevines that become infected with PD can quickly become sick and die.

glassy-winged sharpshooter

Quantitative comparison of stylet penetration behaviors of glassy-winged sharpshooter on selected hosts.

  • Author(s): Backus, EA; Sandanayaka, WRM;
  • Abstract: New Zealand is threatened by invasion of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), an important vector of Xylella fastidiosa, a gram-negative bacterium that causes Pierce's disease in grape (Vitis spp.) and scorch diseases in many other horticultural crops. Therefore, an understanding of the host acceptability, feeding behavior, and potential vector efficiency of glassy-winged sharpshooter on New Zealand crops is important. We tested host plant acceptance and feeding behaviors of glassy-winged sharpshooter on three common horticultural crops grown in New Zealand (apple [Malus spp.], grape, and citrus [Citrus spp.]), and a native plant (Metrosideros excelsa [=tomentosa] Richard, pohutukawa), using the electrical penetration graph (EPG) technique. Probing (stylet penetration) behaviors varied among the host plants, primarily due to differences in waveform event durations. Apple and grape were the most accepted host plants, on which glassy-winged sharpshooter spent the majority of its time on the plant probing and readily located and accepted a xylem cell for ingestion. This resulted in long durations of sustained xylem fluid ingestion. In contrast, pohutukawa was the least accepted host. On this plant, glassy-winged sharpshooter spent less time probing and engaged in longer and more frequent testing/searching and xylem-testing activities, rejected xylem cells frequently, and spent less time with stylets resting, before accepting a xylem cell and ultimately performing the same amount of sustained ingestion. Citrus plants contaminated with sublethal insecticide residues were intermediate between these extremes, with some acceptance of xylem, but less ingestion, probably due to presumed partial paralysis of the cibarial muscles. Implications of the results in terms of host plant acceptance and the development of a stylet penetration index are discussed.
  • Publication Date: Aug 2008
  • Journal: J Econ Entomol