Xylella insect vectors

Xylella is transmitted by insects to host plants. BRIGIT will investigate this relationship, the species involved and the wider movement of insects across countries.

Xylella lives in the xylem of plants. Insects that feed from the xylem can acquire Xylella and transmit the bacterium to other plants.

Xylella is transmitted by insects to host plants. BRIGIT will investigate this relationship, the species involved and the wider movement of insects within the UK and across countries and continents.

The meadow froghopper, Philaenus spumarius, has been associated with transmission of Xylella in olive in Europe. However, other species are associated with transmission in the Americas, for example the leafhoppers Oncometopia fascialis and Homalodisca vitripennis are important vectors of Xylella in citrus and grapevine, respectively, and therefore other insect vectors could be important if the bacterium became established in new areas.

It is estimated that there may be around 20 xylem-feeding insect species that could vector Xylella in the UK, in particular species of Anoterostemma, Cicadella, Euscelis, Evacanthus and Graphocephala (leafhoppers), and Aphrophora, Cercopis and Neophilaenus (froghoppers). BRIGIT will increase our understanding of their geographical distribution and population structures of these potential vectors.

BRIGIT will expand on what information is already known by developing:

Tools for morphological identification of potential vectors of Xylella to enable their identification by non-specialists

Distribution and plant host range maps of potential Xylella insect vectors across the UK

Genome sequence and genotyping information to assess past and recent migration patterns of Xylella vectors in the UK

  • OPENPlantINSECTS.org (in construction)

These resources will build on databases established by the University of Sussex and National Museum Wales through an existing community of entomologists. Taken together these resources will generate knowledge on insect vector distribution and dispersal patterns, to model Xylella dispersal if the bacterium were introduced into the UK. These resources and databases will be accessible online for inspectors, trade bodies, nursery owners, farmers and government bodies to access.

 

Potential Xylella vector Host plants UK distribution
Leafhoppers
Anoterostemma ivanhofi Juncus gerardii South-east Scotland (one record)
Cicadella lasiocarpae Carex & Juncus spp. Ireland, North Wales
Cicadella viridis Juncus spp. Ubiquitous
Euscelis incisus Grasses Ubiquitous
Euscelis lineolatus Grasses Widespread, not as common as E. lineolatus
Evacanthus acuminatus Herbaceous dicots Widespread, not as common as E. interruptus
Evacanthus interruptus Herbaceous dicots Ubiquitous
Graphocephala fennahi Rhododendron ponticum South-east England, Midlands
Froghoppers/spittlebugs
Aphrophora alni Trees, esp. Alnus & Salix spp. Ubiquitous
Aphrophora major Trees, esp. Alnus & Salix spp. Widespread, not as common as A. alni
Aphrophora pectoralis Trees, esp. Alnus & Salix spp. Widespread, not as common as A. alni
Aphrophora salicina Trees, esp. Alnus & Salix spp. Widespread, not as common as A. alni
Cercopis vulnerata Herbaceous dicots Widespread England & Wales
Neophilaenus campestris Grasses Widespread, not as common as N. lineatus
Neophilaenus exclamationis Grasses Widespread, not as common as N. lineatus
Neophilaenus lineatus Grasses Ubiquitous
Neophilaenus longiceps Grasses Thames estuary
Philaenus spumarius Polyphagous Ubiquitous