Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 49–61 | Cite as

Importance of psyllids’ life stage in the epidemiology of apple proliferation phytoplasma

  • Tiziana Oppedisano
  • Bernd Panassiti
  • Federico PedrazzoliEmail author
  • Cecilia Mittelberger
  • Pier Luigi Bianchedi
  • Gino Angeli
  • Antonio De Cristofaro
  • Katrin Janik
  • Gianfranco Anfora
  • Claudio Ioriatti
Original Paper


Phytoplasmas, microorganisms associated with severe plant diseases, are obligate parasites transmitted by phloem-feeding insects. Cacopsylla melanoneura and Cacopsylla picta are involved in the transmission of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma mali,’ the etiological agent of apple proliferation (AP) disease. Research conducted in different geographic regions showed different transmission efficiencies for the two psyllids. In this study, acquisition and transmission trials were carried out to investigate the role of different life stages of these vectors in the epidemiology of AP after a sudden outbreak in northeastern Italy. Both species resulted able to acquire ‘Ca. P. mali,’ with higher infection rates recorded in C. picta. F1 generations showed a higher acquisition ability compared to adults in both species. ‘Ca. P. mali’ transmission was successful: Up to 1.5% of test plants were infected in trials with C. melanoneura and up to 10.2% in trials with C. picta. Overwintered adults of C. melanoneura showed a lower vectoring ability compared to C. picta. F1 nymphs and F1 adults, developed on infected plants, resulted in being competent vectors. Data on phytoplasma acquisition suggest a different relationship of ‘Ca. P. mali’ with the two species, evidencing a stronger affinity with C. picta. Moreover, taking into account the different factors influencing AP transmission, the probability of infection is mainly influenced by the presence of F1 nymphs and the phytoplasma load. In conclusion, this study evidences that C. picta is the most effective AP vector in the studied area, even if C. melanoneura can represent a potential risk in the presence of high inoculum sources.


Psyllids vectors Phytoplasma Acquisition and transmission Apple proliferation Candidatus Phytoplasma mali’ 



The authors thank Marco Deromedi for the assistance with insect rearing and care of stocked plant material, Christine Kerschbamer for her help with PCR analyses, and Hannes Schuler for the critical comments on the manuscript. The work was performed as part of SCOPAZZI-FEM, APPL2.0, and APPLClust projects and was partly funded by the Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers in Trentino (APOT), the Autonomous Province of Bozen/Bolzano, and the South Tyrolean Apple Consortium.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals (vertebrates) performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10340_2019_1130_MOESM1_ESM.docx (194 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 194 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiziana Oppedisano
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bernd Panassiti
    • 4
  • Federico Pedrazzoli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cecilia Mittelberger
    • 4
  • Pier Luigi Bianchedi
    • 1
  • Gino Angeli
    • 1
  • Antonio De Cristofaro
    • 2
  • Katrin Janik
    • 4
  • Gianfranco Anfora
    • 3
    • 5
  • Claudio Ioriatti
    • 1
  1. 1.Technology Transfer CentreFondazione Edmund MachSan Michele all’Adige, TrentoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food SciencesUniversity of MoliseCampobassoItaly
  3. 3.Research and Innovation CentreFondazione Edmund MachSan Michele all’Adige, TrentoItaly
  4. 4.Laimburg Research CentreAuer, BolzanoItaly
  5. 5.Center of Agriculture, Food and Environment (C3A)University of TrentoSan Michele all’Adige, TrentoItaly

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