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  • Author or Editor: Antonios E. Tsagkarakis x
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Asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphorina citri)] is an important pest of citrus (Citrus sp.) in many citrus-growing regions of the world because of its status as the vector of huanglongbing disease [HLB (citrus greening)]. There are currently no HLB-resistant citrus genotypes and no proven treatments for the disease; thus, vector control through the use of frequent prophylactic pesticide applications is key to managing the spread of this disease. However, this practice is unsustainable and other means of altering ACP biology or reducing populations are needed. To this end, six plant growth regulators (PGRs) were tested to determine their effect on citrus tree vegetative growth and the subsequent impact on the biology of ACP. In greenhouse and growth chamber experiments, ACP reared on trees treated with prohexadione calcium and mefluidide exhibited significant reductions in both fecundity and survivorship, whereas uniconazole affected only fecundity and paclobutrazol affected only survivorship. No significant effects of PGRs on adult ACP weight were observed except on uniconazole-treated trees. No eggs were laid on dikegulac sodium-treated trees; however, this was likely the result of severe phytotoxicity rather than a true PGR effect. Oviposition rate was lower on all the PGR-treated trees, except chlormequat chloride under greenhouse conditions, compared with untreated control trees. In general, oviposition was delayed on PGR-treated trees compared with untreated controls. The observed changes in ACP biology and behavior after PGR treatment were not the result of a reduction in the number of suitable oviposition sites (i.e., growth reduction) or toxicity of the PGRs to ACP, suggesting there were PGR-induced plant biochemical changes that altered host plant quality. Leaf nutrient analyses and photosynthesis indicated that there were no correlative changes in plant nutrient status or carbon assimilation that led to the changes in ACP behavior, although it is possible that phloem-specific nutrient or carbohydrate changes could have occurred that were not detected in our whole-leaf analyses. These results support previous studies in which the fitness of various insect species has been affected by PGR applications, but more research is needed to understand the changes in plant chemistry that are responsible.

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