Identification of possible insect vectors of phytoplasmas in Quercus humboldtii Bonpla in Bogotá, Colombia

2017 | Liliana Franco-Lara , PhD and Co-Investigator Helena Brochero, PhD, Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, Cajica, Colombia

In Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, urban trees are affected by a serious disease caused by phytoplasmas. Phytoplasmas are bacteria transmitted by insect vectors that infect plants causing their deformation and affecting the services they offer to people. Insect vectors feed on infected plants and carry phytoplasmas to healthy plants. Quercus humboldtii (Andean Oak tree), is one of the affected tree species in Bogotá. These trees are crucial for the native Andean forests and recently have been introduced to Bogotá, where they became diseased. There is no information about the insects that could be responsible for the transmission of this disease to urban trees, but this information is indispensable to produce control strategies.

The objectives of this project are: i) to study the diversity of insects found in Andean Oak trees of Bogotá, ii) to determine the presence of possible insect vectors in Andean Oak trees and iii) to generate DNA barcodes (genetic identification method) that complement the standard taxonomic method.

In order to collect insects associated to Andean Oak trees, samplings will be performed in twelve trees of Bogotá. The insects will be identified by standard taxonomic procedures and selected individuals will be subjected to genetic analysis to produce their DNA barcodes. These insects will also be tested to determine the presence of phytoplasmas in them. Finally, potential insect vectors, will be tested to determine its ability to transmit phytoplasmas by feeding from artificial feeders.


For more information on this project, contact the researcher via TREE Fund at