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• Zebra chip discovery in Pacific Northwest raises questions
Don Henne of Texas A&M University and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative Zebra Chip Project has trapped a single potato psyllid in a field near Oakes in southeastern North Dakota.
Researchers don't know if the pest was carrying the zebra chip bacterium, according to a North Dakota State University potato blight disease report.
Zebra chip, caused by Candidatus Liberibacter, is harmless to humans.
But the bacterium affects how starches and sugars are stored in the potato tubers.
When the potatoes are sliced and heated, as in the frying of chips, the sugar carmelizes, creating brown stripes.
Even if potato psyllids don't carry the disease, in large numbers they can cause serious crop damage just by sucking plant juices.
Depending when the pest enters fields, feeding can affect tuber set and bulking.