Oviposition Behavior and Development of Aster Leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) on Selected Host Plants from the Canadian Prairies


Romero, B., Olivier, C., Wist, T., Prager, S.M. (2020). Oviposition Behavior and Development of Aster Leafhoppers (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) on Selected Host Plants from the Canadian Prairies, 113(6), 2695-2704. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jee/toaa243

Plain language summary

The suitability of several plant species as reproductive hosts for the aster leafhopper, the main vector of aster yellow disease, was investigated. Development was similar across several plant species except for canola and sow thistles were it was lower.


Some plant pathogens are capable of manipulating their insect vectors and plant hosts in a way that disease transmission is enhanced. Aster leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus Forbes) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) is the main vector of Aster Yellows Phytoplasma (Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris) in the Canadian Prairies, which causes Aster Yellows (AY) disease in over 300 plant species including cereals and oilseeds. However, little is known about the host range of Aster leafhoppers or their host-choice selection behavior in this geographical region. Several crop and noncrop species commonly found in the Canadian Prairies were evaluated as food and reproductive hosts for Aster leafhoppers through no-choice bioassays. To study possible effects of pathogen infection, AY-uninfected and AY-infected insects were used. Cereals and some noncrops like fleabane were suitable reproductive hosts for Aster leafhoppers, with numbers of offspring observed in treatments using both AY-uninfected and AY-infected insects, suggesting an egg-laying preference on these plant species. Development was similar across the different plant species, except for canola and sowthistle, where growth indexes were lower. Sex-ratios of Aster leafhopper adults did not differ among the plant species or with respect to AY infection. Potential fecundity differed across plant species and was affected by the infection status of the insect. These findings have implications for AY epidemiology and suggest that while cereals can be suitable host plants for Aster leafhopper oviposition and development, some noncrop species could act as alternate hosts for leafhoppers that migrate into the Canadian Prairies before emergence of cereal and canola crops.

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