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UCR-led research team uses tiny wasp to wipe out major agricultural pest in Tahiti
Date:3/14/2008

ry effective in suppressing invasive species.

Native to the southeastern U.S and northeastern Mexico, the sharpshooter is a half-inch long leaf hopper, dark brown in color, that has threatened the wine, table grape, and raisin industries in California since the 1980s because of a lethal bacteria that it spreads when feeding on plants.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter is a vector of Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterial pathogen that has potential to wipe out the grape, peach and almond industry, as well as many ornamental bushes and trees. Xylella fastidiosa causes Pierces disease that can kill a grapevine in just two years.

Xylella kills plants by blocking the water conducting system, or xylem. The blockages reduce water flow to leaves. Water stress is visible as scorched leaves, which quickly dry and drop. Plants often die when these symptoms become obvious.

Because of its ability to spread a plant pathogen, the sharpshooter threatens native biodiversity and agriculture, In addition to grapes, the bacteria it spreads kills almonds, peaches, plums, olives, oleanders, and liquidambar.

A voracious eater, the sharpshooter can consume up to 100 times its body weight per day in plant fluids, and produces copious amounts of watery excreta that often rains down from trees, causing a social and recreational nuisance.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter, which invaded Tahiti in 1999, is also proving to be a nuisance in Easter Island (arrived 2005) and the Cook Islands (arrived 2007). It was also a pest in Hawai'i (arrived 2004) until G. ashmeadi, which controlled glassy-winged sharpshooters in Tahiti, accidentally arrived in Hawai'i.

Hoddle was joined in the study by Julie Grandgirard, Jerome N. Petit, George K. Roderick and Neil Davies of UC Berkeley. The French Polynesian government provided financial and logistical support for
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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