The rate of Flavescence dorée phytoplasma (FDP) acquisition by the leafhopper vector Scaphoideus titanus Ball was tested under field and glass house conditions confining healthy reared nymphs on canes of FDP-infected grapevines or on FDP-infected cuttings collected in the field during the dormant season. Acquisition tests were performed using FD-tolerant (Merlot) or highly susceptible (Pinot blanc) grapevine cultivars, or alternatively using experimentally infected broadbean plants. Frequency of FDP acquisition by leafhoppers was evaluated using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Different batches of insects were confined on the same infected source plants in the vineyard for acquisition access periods (AAP) of 7 d at a time at intervals of 15-20 d during spring and summer. When diseased Pinot blanc grapevines were used as source plants, acquisition by leafhoppers and transmission to healthy grapevines increased over summer, while almost no acquisition or transmission was observed when diseased Merlot grapevines were used as source plants. Tests conducted under controlled conditions confirmed that Merlot is a poorer source of FDP than Pinot blanc; the optimum FDP source for S. titanus was broadbean although this plant is not a natural host of the leafhopper. It is assumed that grapevine cultivars play an important role in influencing the proportion of FDP-infected leafhoppers in the vineyards and therefore influencing the rate of disease progress.
K e y w o r d s : Flavescence dorée, varietal susceptibility, vector, acquisition, transmission, PCR detection.