Biological invasions of vectorborne diseases can be devastating. Bioclimatic modeling provides an opportunity to assess and predict areas at risk from complex multitrophic interactions of pathogens, highlighting areas in need of increased monitoring effort. Here, we model the distribution of an economically critical vectorborne plant pathogen 'Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia', the etiological agent of Witches' Broom Disease of Lime. This disease is a significant limiting factor on acid lime production (Citrus aurantifolia, Swingle) in the Middle East and threatens its production globally. We found that temperature, humidity, and the vector populations significantly determine disease distribution. Following this, we used bioclimatic modeling to predict potential novel sites of infections. The model outputs identified potential novel sites of infection in the citrus producing regions of Brazil and China. We also used our model to explore sites in Oman where the pathogen may not be infectious, and suggest nurseries be established there. Recent major turbulence in the citrus agricultural economy has highlighted the importance of this work and the need for appropriate and targeted monitoring programs to safeguard lime production.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science