Homalodisca coagulata Say (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) is a major agronomic pest because it transmits Xylella fastidiosa (Wells), the bacterium that causes Pierce’s disease of grapevine. The ability to easily detect X. fastidiosa in populations of H. coagulata facilitates epidemiological studies and development of a monitoring program supporting disease management. Such a program depends on a detection protocol that is rapid, reproducible, and amenable to large sample sizes, while remaining sensitive enough to detect low amounts of pathogen DNA. In this study, we developed an improved method to speed DNA extraction by implementing a simple vacuum step that replaces labor- and time-intensive maceration of tissue samples and that is compatible with manufactured DNA extraction kits. Additionally, we have developed a SYBR Green-based real-time (RT)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) system, which uses traditional PCR primers that are relatively inexpensive and effective. Using this extraction/RT-PCR system, we found no statistically significant differences in the detection of X. fastidiosa among samples that were either immediately extracted or stored dry or in mineral oil for 10 d at −4°C. In further testing, we found no significant reduction in detection capabilities for X. fastidiosa-fed H. coagulata left in the sun on yellow sticky cards for up to 6 d. Therefore, we recommend a field-based detection system that includes recovery of H. coagulata from sticky traps for up to 6 d after trapping, subsequent freezing of samples for as long as 10 d before vacuum extraction is performed, and detection of the bacterium by SYBR Green-based RT-PCR.
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Vol. 98 • No. 3