Effects of carrot psyllid (Trioza apicalis) feeding on carrot yield and content of sugars and phenolic compounds

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Carrot psyllid, Trioza apicalis, is a serious pest of carrot in Northern Europe, as it can significantly damage young carrot seedlings in a period as short as 3 days. This study was conducted to investigate effects of carrot psyllid feeding at different plant growth stages on carrot yield and to assess changes in content of sugars, phenolics and related compounds in carrot roots resulting from the psyllid feeding. In addition, reflectance of carrot leaves was measured to assess the intensity of discolouration in damaged leaves. Results showed that carrot yield was significantly reduced by a 3-day carrot psyllid feeding period when the seedlings were exposed to psyllids at 1- or 2-leaf stage. However, at 4-leaf stage feeding by one carrot psyllid did not reduce yield. Sucrose concentration in the damaged roots was significantly decreased, whereas concentrations of some phenolic compounds were significantly increased. The reflectance of leaves of damaged carrots differed significantly from those of undamaged control leaves. These observations indicate that carrot psyllid damage has potential to lower not only the carrot yield, but also the carrot crop quality. No phytoplasma was detected in the carrots exposed to psyllids, but recently, T. apicalis has been associated with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’. The role of carrot psyllid feeding and the psyllid-associated bacterium in the damage formation are discussed.

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