Presence and prevalence of Raffaelea lauricola, cause of laurel wilt, in different species of ambrosia beetle in Florida, USA.
We summarize the information available on ambrosia beetle species that have been associated in Florida with Raffaelea lauricola T.C. Harr., Fraedrich & Aghayeva, the primary symbiont of Xyleborus glabratus Eichhoff and cause of laurel wilt. In total, 14 species in Ambrosiodmus, Euwallacea, Premnobius, Xyleborus, Xyleborinus, and Xylosandrus were either reared from laurel wilt-affected host trees or trapped in laurel wilt-affected stands of the same, and assayed for R. lauricola. In six collections from native species in the southeastern United States [Persea borbonia (L.), Persea palustris (Raf.) Sarg., and Persea humilis Nash] and four from avocado (Persea americana Mill.), extracted mycangia or heads (taxa with mandibular mycangia) or intact bodies (taxa with mycangia in other locations) were surface-disinfested before assays on a semi-selective medium for the isolation of Raffaelea (CSMA+). Raffaelea lauricola was identified based on its characteristic phenotype on CSMA+, and the identity of a random subset of isolates was confirmed with taxon-specific microsatellite markers. The pathogen was recovered from 34% (246 of 726) of the individuals that were associated with the native Persea spp., but only 6% (58 of 931) of those that were associated with avocado. Over all studies, R. lauricola was recovered from 10 of the ambrosia beetle species, but it was most prevalent in Xyleborus congeners. This is the first record of R. lauricola in Ambrosiodmus lecontei Hopkins, Xyleborinus andrewesi (Blandford), and Xyleborus bispinatus Eichhoff. The potential effects of R. lauricola's promiscuity are discussed.