Identifying biocontrol agents for X-disease vectors to allow integrated pest management in cherries

X-disease, colloquially referred to as “little cherry disease” is the key threat to Pacific Northwest cherry production and the only management options are tree removal and control of leafhoppers that vector the phytoplasma pathogen. With little natural enemy knowledge, vector control focuses only on chemical controls, suspending integrated management principles. Here, we propose using primers we developed for 3 potential leafhopper biocontrol agents identified in Central Washington cherry orchards: a fungal pathogen, a parasitic fly, and a parasitic wasp to better understand the abundance of each and identify potential for control. By using molecular techniques to evaluate each, we can quickly screen each, and leverage USDA funding to conduct molecular gut content analysis and phytoplasma presence. Further, combining these approaches allows determination of previous food host use, vector capacity, and biocontrol attack rate on each leafhopper, maximizing our ability to identify when, and how such biocontrol agents are attacking vectors.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 211
  • Project Status: No-cost extension granted


  • Principal Investigator(s): Northfield, T.
  • Investigator(s): Cooper, W., Harper, S.
  • Grant Amount: $39,664
  • 2022 Progress Report (PDF)