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Main research question/goal
The aim of this project is to learn more about cicadas or Auchenorryncha, an insect group that lives on plant juices (phloem and xylem) which in Europe often come from cultivated crops. Because of their way of life they are communicator (or vector) of harmful organisms such as phytoplasmas and other vascular bundle bacteria. They therefore pose a serious threat to our agriculture and horticulture. In concrete terms, the researchers work on identification, capture and monitoring techniques to support the diagnosis and management strategies.
On the one hand, this project is funded nationally (FPS) and on the other hand it is part of the transnational EUPHRESCO network with partners in France, Portugal, Morocco (2) and Belgium (2). In this, different partners each focus on their own study cases, but all with the same central objectives.

Research approach
We first evaluate different monitoring and capture techniques for these phloem and xylem-feeding insects in order to be able to sample / inventory them efficiently. We identify which potential vectors exist in the Auchenorrhyncha group. We organise an extensive vector monitoring and in addition optimise detection of the phytoplasma pathogens in the vectors themselves, using the available validated diagnostic tools. We try to set up a culture of the potential vectors and if possible, we also carry out transmission tests to demonstrate their importance as a vector.

The project has met the Belgian priorities and the expectations of our partners to provide more knowledge about the risk associated with insects that feed on plant phloem and xylem. Important known and recently discovered diseases are caused by phytoplasma and bacteria that rely specifically on these insects for transmission. The knowledge we obtained about the presence of these vectors or potential vectors that are present in a number of selected important crops (apple, pear and carrot) in Belgium, contributes to the understanding and evaluation of the plant health risk for these phytoplasma diseases in the affected sectors.
Effective start/end date1/03/1631/05/18

ID: 4444602