Asian Citrus Psyllids (Sternorrhyncha: Psyllidae) and Greening Disease in Citrus: A Literature Review and Assessment of Risk in Florida

  • Susan E. Halbert
  • Keremane L. Manjunath


The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama, was discovered in Florida in 1998. It can be one of the most serious pests of citrus if the pathogens that cause citrus greening disease (huanglongbing) are present. Citrus greening recently has been reported in Brazil by Fundecitrus, Brazil. The establishment of D. citri in Florida increases the possibility that the disease may become established. Diaphorina citri can be separated from about 13 other species of psyllids reported on citrus. The biology of D. citri makes it ideally suited to the Florida climate. Only two species, D. citri and Trioza erytreae (del Guercio), have been implicated in spread of citrus greening, a disease caused by highly fastidious phloem-inhabiting bacteria. The disease is characterized by blotchy mottle on the leaves, and misshapen, poorly colored off-tasting fruit. In areas where the disease is endemic, citrus trees may live for only 5-8 years and never bear usable fruit. The disease occurs throughout much of Asia and Africa south of the Sahara Desert, on several small islands in the Indian Ocean, and in the Saudi Arabian Peninsula. Transmission of citrus greening occurs primarily via infective citrus psyllids and grafting. It is transmissible experimentally through dodder and might be transmitted by seed from infected plants and transovarially in psyllid vectors. Citrus greening disease is restricted to Citrus and close citrus relatives because of the narrow host range of the psyllid vectors. Management of citrus greening disease is difficult and requires an integrated approach including use of clean stock, elimination of inoculum via voluntary and regulatory means, use of pesticides to control psyllid vectors in the citrus crop, and biological control of psyllid vectors in non-crop reservoirs. There is no place in the world where citrus greening disease occurs that it is under completely successful management. Eradication of citrus greening disease may be possible if it is detected early. Research is needed on rapid and robust diagnosis, disease epidemiology, and psyllid vector control.

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