Lavender Decline in France Is Associated with Chronic Infection by Lavender-Specific Strains of “Candidatus Phytoplasma solani”

Sémétey et al. (2018). Applied and Environmental Microbiology 84 (24)
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Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Biotechnology Ecology Food Science
The etiology and main pathways for the spread of lavender decline, an infectious disease affecting French lavender production since the 1960s, have remained unclear, hampering the development of efficient control strategies. An extensive survey of lavender fields led to the conclusion that “ Candidatus Phytoplasma solani” was chronically infecting declining lavenders and was associated with large infectious populations of Hyalesthes obsoletus planthoppers living on the crop itself. Lavender appeared to be the main reservoir host for lavender-specific phytoplasma strains, an unusual feature for this phytoplasma, which usually propagates from reservoir weeds to various economically important crops. These results point out the necessity to protect young lavender fields from the initial phytoplasma inoculum coming from surrounding lavender fields or from infected nurseries and to promote agricultural practices that reduce the development of H. obsoletus vector populations.
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