Honeybees can spread Colletotrichum acutatum and C-gloeosporioides among citrus plants

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Postbloom fruit drop (PFD) is an important citrus disease that causes up to 100% yield losses during years in which conditions are favourable for the occurrence of epidemics. The conidia of Colletotrichum acutatum and C. gloeosporioides, causal agents of PFD, are predominantly dispersed by rain splash. At the beginning of epidemics, the distribution of diseased plants is random and the disease progress rate is very high, which is unusual for pathogens spread by rain splash. As the pathogen produces abundant conidia on diseased petals, pollinating insects may contribute to disease dispersal. This study investigated honeybees (Apis mellifera) as dispersal agents of C. acutatum and C. gloeosporioides among citrus plants. Two experiments were carried out in a screenhouse in which citrus plants were protected (or not) in insect-proof cages. The source of inoculum was placed on one side of the screenhouse, and a honeybee hive was placed on the opposite side. All uncaged plants showed symptoms of the disease, and none of the caged plants exhibited PFD symptoms. The monomolecular model showed a good fit to disease progress in both experiments. Conidiumlike structures of Colletotrichum spp. were identified attached to the bodies of the honeybees by scanning electron microscopy. These results have revealed that honeybees disperse Colletotrichum among citrus plants.




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Plant Pathology. Hoboken: Wiley, v. 66, n. 5, p. 777-782, 2017.

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