Australia: Potato producers concerned exotic pest detected in Perth could devastate industry

Bactericera cockerelli, nymph cases, nymph and adultPotato producers in south-west Western Australia say the detection of the tomato potato psyllid is a “serious blow” to their industry. The psyllid is known to attack a range of plants in the Solanaceae family including tomato, potato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli and tamarillo, and also sweet potato. It is the first time the pest has been detected in Australia. It has so far been detected in tomatoes and eggplants at a backyard property in the Perth suburb of Belmont, in tomatoes at two properties in Mount Hawthorn, in chillies at a property in Palmyra, and in a capsicum crop on a commercial property north of Perth. However, there is not only concern for the psyllid. More of a worry to producers is the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which causes the zebra chip disease in potatoes, rendering them completely unmarketable. The Liberibacter has not yet been discovered with the psyllid in Australia, but scientists are concerned because its pathway is unknown. More