Mealybugs as Vectors

  • R. Selvarajan
  • V. Balasubramanian
  • B. Padmanaban


Mealybugs are well-known sap-sucking insects which transmit plant viruses. They are omnipresent, polyphagous, can cause more damage as pests and are less uncommon as virus vectors. The feeding behavior of these vectors has profound ecological and evolutionary implications for the viruses they transmit, as the acquisition and inoculation of viruses occurs during vector feeding. In most cases, there is an intimate relationship between the virus and its vector, and no transmissions occur without the insects feeding in a specific manner. This feeding behavior often causes considerable economic loss to agriculture through direct damage to crops and via virus transmission. They are considered pests as they feed on the plant juices of economically important crop plants, and also act as vectors for several plant viral diseases. The transmission of the plant virus species belonging to Caulimoviridae and Closteroviridae by different species of mealybugs is furnished in detail in this chapter.


Grapevine Virus Acquisition Access Period Mealybug Species Banana Streak Virus Inoculation Access Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Beardsley JW Jr, Su TH, McEwen FL, Gerling D (1982) Field investigations on the interrelationships of the big-headed ant, thegray mealybug, and pineapple wilt disease in Hawaii. Proc Hawaii Entomol Soc 24:51–67Google Scholar
  2. Bhat AI, Devasahayam S, Sarma YR, Pant RP (2003) Association of a badnavirus in black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) transmitted by mealybug (Ferrisia virgata) in India. Curr Sci 84(12):1547–1550Google Scholar
  3. Cabaleiro C, Segura A (1997) Field transmission of grapevine leafroll associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3) by the mealybug Planococcus citri. Plant Dis 81:283–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Calatayud PA, Rahbe Y, Tjallingii WF, Tertuliano M, Leru B (1994) Electrically recorded feeding-behavior of cassava mealybug on host and nonhost plants. Entomol Exp Appl 72:219–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carter W (1934) Mealybug wilt and green spot in Jamaica and Central America. Phytopathology 24:424–426Google Scholar
  6. Carter W (1942) The geographical distribution of mealybug wilt with notes on some other insect pests of pineapple. J Econ Entomol 35:10–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carter W (1949) Insect notes from South America with special reference to Pseudococcus brevipes and mealybug wilt. J Econ Entomol 42:761–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carter W (1962) Insects in relation to plant disease. Wiley, New York, pp 238–265Google Scholar
  9. Carter W (1963) Mealybug wilt of pineapple: a reappraisal. Ann N Y Acad Sci 105:741–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cid M, Fereres A (2010) Characterization of the probing and feeding behavior of Planococcus citri (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) on grapevine. Ann Entomol Soc Am 103:404–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cid M, Pereira S, Cabaleiro C, Faoro F, Segura A (2007) Presence of Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 in primary salivary glands of the mealybug vector Planococcus citri suggests a circulative transmission mechanism. Eur J Plant Pathol 118:23–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crowdy SH, Posnette AF (1947) Virus diseases of cacao in West Africa. II Cross-immunity experiments with viruses 1A, 1B, 1C. Ann Appl Biol 34:403–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Daniells JW, Geering ADW, Bryde NJ, Thomas JE (2001) The effect of Banana streak virus on the growth and yield of dessert bananas in tropical Australia. Ann Appl Biol 139:51–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis RI, Geering ADW, Thomas JE, Gunua TG, Rahamma S (2000) First records of Banana streak virus on the island of New Guinea. Aust Plant Pathol 29:281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dongo LN, Orisajo SB (2007) Status of cocoa swollen shoot virus disease in Nigeria. Afr J Biotechnol 6:2054–2061Google Scholar
  16. Dzahini-Obiatey H, Domfeh O, Amoah FM (2010) Over seventy years of a viral disease of cocoa in Ghana: from researchers’ perspective. Afr J Agric Res 5:476–485Google Scholar
  17. Garau R, Prota VA, Boscia D, Fiori M, Prota U (1995) Pseudococcus affinis mask., new vector of grapevine trichoviruses A and B. Vitis 34:67–68Google Scholar
  18. Golino DA, Sim ST, Gill R, Rowhani A (2002) California mealybugs can spread grapevine leafroll disease. Calif Agric 56:196–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harper G, Hart D, Moult S, Hull R (2004) Banana streak virus is very diverse in Uganda. Virus Res 100:51–56CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hu JS, Sether DM (1999a) Etiology of mealybug wilt of pineapple. In: Abstracts in Xth international congress of virology. Sydney, Australia, p 321Google Scholar
  21. Hu JS, Sether DM (1999b) Mealybugs and pineapple mealybug wilt associated virus are both necessary for mealybug wilt (Abstr.). Phytopathology 89:S70Google Scholar
  22. Hu JS, Sether DM, Liu XP, Wang M, Zee F, Ullman DE (1997) Use of a tissue blotting immunoassay to examine the distribution of pineapple closterovirus in Hawaii. Plant Dis 81:1150–1154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jahn GC (1992) The ecological significance of the big-headed ant in mealybug wilt disease of pineapple. PhD thesis, University of Hawaii, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  24. Kubiriba J, Legg JP, Tushemereirwe W, Adipala E (2001) Vector transmission of Banana streak virus in the screen house in Uganda. Ann Appl Biol 139:37–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. La Notte P, Buzkan N, Choueiri E, Minafra A, Martelli GP (1997) Acquisition and transmission of grapevine virus A by the mealybug Pseudococcus longispinus. J Plant Pathol 78:79–85Google Scholar
  26. Le Maguet J, Beuve M, Herrbach E, Lemaire O (2012) Transmission of six ampeloviruses and two vitiviruses to grapevine by Phenacoccus aceris. Phytopathology 102:717–723CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lockhart BEL, Autrey JC (1988) Occurrence in sugarcane of a bacilliform virus related serologically to banana streak virus. Plant Dis 72:230–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lockhart BEL, Olszewski NE (1993) Serological and genomic heterogeneity of banana streak badnavirus: implications for virus detection in Musa germplasm. In: Proceedings of international symposium on genetic improvement of bananas for resistance to diseases and pests, Montpellier (FRA), 1992/09/7-9. Breeding banana and plantain for resistance to diseases and pests. CIRAD-FLHOR, Montpellier, pp 105–113Google Scholar
  29. Lockhart BEL, Olszewski NE (1996) Schefflera ringspot virus, a widely distributed mealybug-transmitted badnavirus occurring in Schefflera and Aralia. Acta Hortic 432:196–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lockhart BEL, Autrey LJC, Comstock JC (1992) Partial purification and serology of sugarcane mild mosaic virus, a mealybug transmitted closterolike virus. Phytopathology 82:691–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lockhart BEL, Kiratiya-Angul K, Jones P, Eng L, De Silva P, Olszewski NE, Deema N, Sangalang J (1997) Identification of Piper yellow mottle virus, a mealybug-transmitted badnavirus infecting Piper spp. in southeast Asia. Eur J Plant Pathol 103:303–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lockhart BEL, Ndowora TC, Olszewski NE, Dahal G (1998) Studies on integration of banana streak Badnavirus sequences in Musa: identification of episomally-expressible badnaviral integrants in Musa genotypes. In: Frison EA, Sharrock SE (eds) Banana streak virus: a unique virus-Musa interaction? Proceedings of workshop of the PROMUSA Virol. Working group held in Montpellier, France, 19–21 Jan 1998Google Scholar
  33. Macanawai AR, Ebenebe AA, Hunter D, Devitt LC, Hafner GJ, Harding RM (2005) Investigations into the seed and mealybug transmission of Taro bacilliform virus. Aust Plant Pathol 34(1):73–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maree HJ, Almeida RP, Bester R, Chooi KM, Cohen D, Doljam VV, Fuchs MF, Golino DA, Jooste AE, Martelli GP, Naidu RA, Rowhani A, Saldarelli P, Burger JT (2013) Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3. Front Microbiol 4:82. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00082. 2013 Apr 16
  35. Meyer JB, Kasdorf GGF, Nel LH, Pietersen G (2008) Transmission of activated-episomal banana streak OL (badna) virus (BSOLV) to cv. Williams banana (Musa sp.) by three mealybug species. Plant Dis 92:1158–1163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miiler JG, Daane KM, McElfresh JS, Moreira JA, Malakar-Kuenen R, Guillen M, Bently WJ (2002) Development and optimization of methods for using sex pheromones for monitoring the mealybug Planococcus ficus (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae) in Californian vineyards. J Econ Entomol 95:706–714CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Petty GJ, Tustin H (1993) Ant (Pheidole megacephala F.)-mealybug (Dysmicoccus brevipes Ckll.) relationships in pineapples in South Africa. Acta Hortic 334:387–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Posnette AF, Robertson NF (1950) Virus diseases of cacao in West Africa. VI. Vector investigations. Ann Appl Biol 37:363–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Raine J, McMullen RD, Forbes AR (1986) Transmission of the agent causing little cherry disease by the apple mealybug Phenacoccus aceris and the dodder Cuscuta lupuliformis. Can J Plant Pathol 8:6–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rohrbach KG, Beardsley JW, German TL, Reimer NJ, Sanford WG (1988) Mealybug wilt mealybugs and ants on pineapple. Plant Dis 72:558–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Roivainen O (1976) Transmission of cocoa viruses by mealy bugs (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae). J Sci Agric Soc Finl 48:433–453Google Scholar
  42. Rosciglione B, Castellano MA, Martelli GP, Savino V, Cannizzaro G (1983) Mealybug transmission of grapevine virus A. Vitis 22:331–347Google Scholar
  43. Selvarajan R, Balasubramanian V, Padmanaban B, Sathaimoorthy S (2006) Vector transmission of banana bract mosaic and banana streak viruses in India. In: Proceeding of “International symposium on Management of vector-borne viruses” held at ICRISAT, Hyderabad, 7–10 Feb 2006, p 110Google Scholar
  44. Sether DM, Hu JS (1998) Corollary analyses of the presence of pineapple mealybug wilt associatedvirus and the expression of mealybug wilt symptoms, growth reduction, and/or precocious flowering of pineapple (Abstr.). Phytopathology 88:80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sether DM, Hu JS (2002a) Closterovirus infection and mealybug exposure are necessary for the development of mealybug wilt of pineapple disease. Phytopathology 92:928–935Google Scholar
  46. Sether DM, Hu JS (2002b) Yield impact and spread of Pineapple mealybug wilt associated virus-2 and mealybug wilt of pineapple in Hawaii. Plant Dis 86:867–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sether DM, Ullman DE, Hu JS (1998) Transmission of pineapple mealybug wilt-associated virus by two species of mealybug (Dysmicoccus spp.). Phytopathology 88:1224–1230CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Sether DM, Melzer MJ, Busto J, Zee F, Hu JS (2005) Diversity and mealybug transmissibility of ampeloviruses in pineapple. Plant Dis 89:450–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Su HJ (1998) First occurrence of Banana streak badnavirus and studies on its vectorship in Taiwan. In: Banana streak virus: a unique virus–Musa interaction? Proceedings of the Workshop PROMUSA Virology Working Group, pp 20–25Google Scholar
  50. Thangavelu R, Selvarajan R, Singh HP (2000) Status of banana streak virus and banana bract mosaic virus diseases in India. In: Singh HP, Chadha KL (eds) Banana: improvement, production and utilization. Proceedings of the conference on challenges for banana production and utilization in 21st century, AIPUB, NRCB, Trichy, India, pp 364–376Google Scholar
  51. Tsai CW, Chau J, Fernandez L, Bosco D, Daane KM, Almeida RPP (2008) Transmission of Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 by the vine mealybug (Planococcus ficus). Phytopathology 98:1093–1098CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Tsai CW, Rowhani A, Golino DA, Daane KM, Almeida RPP (2010) Mealybug transmission of grapevine leafroll viruses: an analysis of virus–vector specificity. Phytopathology 100:830–834CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Tsai CW, Daugherty MP, Almaida RPP (2012) Seasonal dynamics and virus translation of grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 in grapevine cultivars. Plant Pathol 61:977–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wakman W, Teakle D, Thomas JE, Dietzgen RG (1995) Presence of clostero-like virus and a bacilliform virus in pineapple plants in Queensland. Aust J Agric Res 46:947–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Watson GW, Kubiriba J (2005) Identification of mealybugs (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) on banana and plantain in Africa. Afr Entomol 13:35–47Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Selvarajan
    • 1
  • V. Balasubramanian
    • 1
  • B. Padmanaban
    • 2
  1. 1.National Research Centre for BananaTiruchirapalliIndia
  2. 2.ICAR-National Research Centre for BananaTiruchirappalliIndia

Personalised recommendations