Silverleaf whitefly (SLW) (Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring) feeding was associated with development of tomato irregular ripening (TIR) symptoms. `Micro-Tom', `Florida Basket', `Florida Lanai', and `Florida Petite' dwarf cherry tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were infested with adult SLW to observe oviposition preference, plant tolerance, and TIR symptom development in two experiments. There was no oviposition preference among the cultivars in either of the trials. TIR fruit symptoms were expressed as longitudinal red streaks with yellow, green, pink, or red blotches externally and white tissue internally. External TIR symptoms at the pink stage of ripening ranged from 32% (`Micro-Tom') to 82% (`Florida Basket') in Expt. 1 and 44% (`Micro-Tom') to 93% (`Florida Petite') in Expt. 2. In Expt. 1, external TIR symptoms disappeared from 18% (`Florida Lanai') to 37% (`Micro-Tom') and, in Expt. 2, 16% (`Micro-Tom') to 39% (`Florida Basket') of the fruit during ripening. SLW-infested plants exhibited 82% (`Florida Lanai') to 99% (`Florida Basket') and 76% (`Micro-Tom') to 90% (`Florida Petite') of fruit with internal white tissue regardless of external symptoms in Expts. 1 and 2, respectively. Tomatoes with severe TIR symptoms rarely ripened to full red. Postharvest characteristics of ripening SLW-infested and control fruit were evaluated (Expts. 3 and 4). Generally, the SLW-infested fruit were lighter in color than the control fruit. The control fruit developed normal red color while the SLW-infested fruit developed a blotchy, streaky color that was overall more of an orange-red. SLW-infested fruit were firmer than the control fruit in both experiments. Ethylene production was higher in SLW-infested fruit. While the total soluble solids contents were not significantly different between the treatments, the SLW-infested fruit were more acidic than the control fruit. Each cultivar was susceptible to oviposition by SLW and induction of TIR symptoms. However, TIR symptom expression differed among the cultivars. Despite higher ethylene levels, the ripening process in the SLW-infested fruit appeared slower or may have been inhibited by factors induced by the SLW compared with the control fruit, which ripened normally.
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