About the pest

Zebra chip is caused by the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, and poses a threat to important horticultural crops. Its name comes from the characteristic dark stripes that it causes in potato.

Impact of the disease is closely associated with the presence of the insect vector, the tomato-potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) which spreads the disease between plants. The bacterium is very fragile and can only survive inside living host tissue.

Main symptoms of zebra chip

In all plants:

  • yellowing and/or purpling of leaves
  • stunted or abnormal growth
  • stem canker (ulcers)
  • wilting of leaves.

In potatoes:

  • dark blotches
  • stripes (making them commercially unviable).

In carrots and tomatoes:

  • leaf curling
  • yellowing and/or purpling of leaves
  • stunting of roots.

In capsicum and chillies:

  • leaves turn pale green or yellow with spiky tips
  • stunting of leaves
  • plant death.

The insect vector can be transported over large distances by wind currents.

Zebra chip can be also be spread by infected plant material and seeds.

The insect vector tomato-potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) is a sap sucking insect that resembles a miniature cicada. It grows to about 3 mm long and is brown in colour with a broad white band on the abdomen.

More information

Zebra chip (Plant Health Australia)

Zebra chip (Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum) (Department of Agriculture)

Tomato-potato psyllid (Plant Health Australia)