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J Econ Entomol. 2019 Dec 26. pii: toz334. doi: 10.1093/jee/toz334. [Epub ahead of print]

Transmission of Cotton Seed and Boll Rotting Bacteria by the Verde Plant Bug (Hemiptera: Miridae).

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Research & Extension Center, Corpus Christi, TX.
Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
USDA ARS Insect Control and Cotton Disease Research Unit, Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center, College Station, TX.
Department of Plant Pathology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.


Field experiments and supporting laboratory work were conducted to characterize the ability of the verde plant bug, Creontiades signatus (Distant), a boll-feeding sucking bug, to transmit a cotton seed and boll rot bacterial pathogen, Serratia marcescens (Bizio) (Enterobacteriales: Enterobacteriaceae). Serratia marcescens was originally isolated from bolls infested with verde plant bug in south Texas, and a Rifampicin resistant S. marcescens strain was used in transmission and retention experiments. Serratia-exposed and nonexposed adult verde plant bugs from a laboratory colony were placed individually on 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-d-old bolls (postanthesis). The bacterial acquisition process did not apparently affect insect vigor based on similar average boll injury ratings observed across both exposed and nonexposed bugs. Cotton bolls caged with Serratia-exposed verde plant bugs had significantly greater presence of S. marcescens and cotton boll rot symptoms than bolls caged without bugs (no-insect controls) or nonexposed bugs. Transmission of the disease agent by verde plant bug was confirmed across all boll ages assayed. Incidence of diseased locules on 5- and 6-d-old bolls was the same or greater than on 7- and 8-d-old bolls. Verde plant bug was able to harbor the disease agent from 24- to 96-h postinfection, and transmission efficiency rates ranged from 54 to 62% during initial transmission and retention (transmission across two bolls fed upon consecutively) studies. Along with photographic evidence, the experimental data supported that boll damage associated with verde plant bug infestations was magnified when insects transmitted the cotton pathogen S. marcescens as demonstrated in this 2-yr field experiment.


Creontiades signatus ; Gossypium hirsutum ; Bacterial plant pathogen; cotton pest; insect vector


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