Presence of pink sugarcane mealybug (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) increases probability of red rot on sugarcane
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Saccharicoccus sacchari (Cockerell, 1895) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) is globally disseminated on sugarcane plants. In Brazil, this species has been occurred in the same region as the occurrence of the fungal pathogen causing red rot, Colletotrichum falcatum Went, 1893 (Glomerellales). The objective of this study was to evaluate the hypothesis that this pseudococcid could act as a facilitator of the penetration of the phytopathogen C. falcatum. Species of this mealybug were reared at laboratory to infest sugarcane plants during the experiment. A total of 320 sugarcane plants were utilized for this study, 160 of CTC4 and 160 of RB86 7515 cultivars (cv.), each group subdivided into four treatments: (1) infested with mealybugs; (2) infected with fungal conidia; (3) infested with mealybugs and infected with fungal conidia; and (4) control. Biometrics of the plants, disease symptoms, Total Reducing Sugars (TRS) and Reducing Sugar (RS) were evaluated. To both cv., there was no difference in the height and diameter of the plants in all treatments; and only in “mealybug + fungus”, significant difference on the lengths of the disease lesions inside the plants was found to each cv. as well as the levels of TRS and RS. The presence of the pseudococcid increased the incidence of the disease in both cv., although RB86 7515 was more susceptible to red rot than CTC4.