Yellow crinkle disease of papaya is a serious threat to papaya production in Australia. Space-time point pattern analysis was used to study the spatial and temporal dependence of two phytoplasma strains that cause yellow crinkle: tomato big bud (TBB) and sweet potato little leaf V4 (SPLL-V4). Incidence data for both phytoplasma strains were obtained from a field study conducted in Katherine, NT, Australia, between January 1996 and May 1999. The primary ecological and epidemiological question of interest was to elucidate the scale of spatial or spatio-temporal aggregation of phytoplasma-infected papaya plants. The hypothesis was that there would be a contagion process, where TBB- and SPLL-V4-infected papaya would be aggregated and not random. To test this hypothesis, a point pattern spatial analysis using Monte Carlo simulation was initially applied to the incidence data. Results of this analysis suggested that SPLL-V4 infected papaya plants displayed aggregation with spatial dependence up to 30 m (10 to 15 plants along or across rows), whereas there was not strong evidence to suggest that TBB-infected papaya plants were aggregated. However, when a space-time point pattern analysis was subsequently used to simultaneously test for the interaction between space and time, there was strong evidence (P < 0.01 for SPLL-V4 and P < 0.10 for TBB) to suggest a space-time interaction for both SPLL-V4 and TBB. For SPLL-V4, a space-time risk window of approximately 10 months and 20 m was detected, whereas for TBB, this risk window was 5 months and 10 m. The results of these studies support the hypothesis that papaya infection by both phytoplasma strains appears to be the result of a contagion process, providing support for the contention that insect vectors are the most likely mechanism for acquisition, dispersal, and transmission.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/philip-dixon/46/