Xylella fastidiosa is best known as the bacterial pathogen that causes Pierce’s disease of grape. It also causes disease on peach (peach phony disease), almond (almond leaf scorch), citrus (citrus variegated chlorosis), oak (oak leaf scorch), and other plants. Since 2004, researchers in Georgia and Florida have confirmedX. fastidiosa as the cause of a leaf scorch disease of southern highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum interspecific hybrids) (Chang et al., 2009; Harmon and Hopkins, 2009). Inoculation of rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) with Xylella fastidiosa resulted either in no detected infection or in local colonization of a limited number of plants (Chang et al., 2009). However, X. fastidiosa has been detected in samples from rabbiteye blueberry orchards in Louisiana that have experienced plant stunting and/or death.
I am investigating whether or not Xylella fastidiosa infection is correlated with reduced yield and plant death in rabbiteye blueberry. I also plan to investigate differences in the susceptibilities of common rabbiteye blueberry cultivars to X. fastidiosa and the degree of similarity between the X. fastidiosa strain in rabbiteye blueberry and that which has been found to cause bacterial leaf scorch in southern highbush blueberry plants.
Questions that I intend to answer include the following: