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Aphrophoridae as Potential Vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Tunisia

INRAT-National Agricultural Research Institute of Tunisia, Rue Hedi Karray, University of Carthage, Tunis 1004, Tunisia
CNR, Instituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante, Sede Secondaria di Bari, 70126 Bari, Italy
CIHEAM-Mediterranean Agronomic Institute, 70010 Bari, Italy
Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1 Universitetskaya Emb., 199034 Saint Petersburg, Russia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2023, 14(2), 119;
Received: 22 November 2022 / Revised: 21 December 2022 / Accepted: 31 December 2022 / Published: 24 January 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Vectors of Plant Diseases)

Simple Summary

The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa induces many plant diseases causing yield losses and plant death. It is passively delivered into the xylem sap by spittlebugs vectors. These insects are small hemipterans of the Aphrophoridae family mostly ranging from 7 to 9 mm in length. They are quite polyphagous, sucking xylem sap from a multitude food plant species (spontaneous, ornamental and cultivated) present in forest, dry grassland and fruit orchards. Four spittlebug species naturally occur in Tunisia. Two species, Philaenus tesselatus and Neophilaenus campestris, seem to be potential vectors. Consequently, the risk of spreading the bacteria is important because of the exchanges between countries. Knowledge of the vector will enforce the available measures against plant pathogen invasion and help to control plant importations from infected countries.


The present study is an update on the situation of potential vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Tunisia. Investigations in nine Tunisian regions (Nabeul, Bizerte, Béja, Jendouba, Zaghouan, Kairouan, Ben Arous, Tunis and Manouba) from 2018 to 2021 allowed for the observation of 3758 Aphrophoridae among a total of 9702 Auchenorrhyncha individuals collected by sweep net. Four Aphrophoridae species were identified with Philaenus tesselatus as most abundant (62%), followed by Neophilaenus campestris (28%), Neophilaenus lineatus (5%) and Philaenus maghresignus (5%). Aphrophoridae individuals were found to be particularly abundant in both forests of Nabeul and Jendouba, secondarily in olive groves and dry grassland. Furthermore, their distribution on weed hosts was followed in these two regions where nymphs and adults are widely distributed. P. tesselatus appears to be the most abundant species as determined either by conventional sweep netting for adults or by plant sampling on Sonchus, Smyrnium, Cirsium, Rumex, Polygonum and Picris for nymphs. Limited numbers of adults of P. maghresignus were detected by sweep netting, while nymphs of this species were found on Asphodelus microcarpus only. N. campestris was found in high numbers on plants belonging to the Poaceae family in forests, dry grassland and olive groves whereas N. lineatus occurred on herbs under or near olive trees and in dry grasslands.
Keywords: Auchenorrhyncha; morphology; Xylella fastidiosa; vectors; nymph; seasonal occurrence; forests; dry grassland; fruits-olive orchards; herbaceous plants Auchenorrhyncha; morphology; Xylella fastidiosa; vectors; nymph; seasonal occurrence; forests; dry grassland; fruits-olive orchards; herbaceous plants

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MDPI and ACS Style

Boukhris-Bouhachem, S.; Souissi, R.; Abou Kubaa, R.; El Moujabber, M.; Gnezdilov, V. Aphrophoridae as Potential Vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Tunisia. Insects 2023, 14, 119.

AMA Style

Boukhris-Bouhachem S, Souissi R, Abou Kubaa R, El Moujabber M, Gnezdilov V. Aphrophoridae as Potential Vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Tunisia. Insects. 2023; 14(2):119.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Boukhris-Bouhachem, Sonia, Rebha Souissi, Raied Abou Kubaa, Maroun El Moujabber, and Vladimir Gnezdilov. 2023. "Aphrophoridae as Potential Vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Tunisia" Insects 14, no. 2: 119.

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