AbstractThe evolution of insect vector‐pathogen relationships has long been of interest in the field of molecular ecology. One system of special relevance, due to its economic impacts, is that between Diaphorina citri and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas), the cause of the severe Asian form of huanglongbing. CLas‐positive D. citri are more fecund than their CLas‐negative counterparts, boosting opportunities for pathogens to acquire new vector hosts. The molecular mechanism behind this life‐history shift remains unclear. Here, we found that CLas promoted ovarian development and increased the expression of the vitellogenin receptor (DcVgR) in ovaries. DcVgR RNAi significantly decreased fecundity and CLas titer in ovaries, extended the preoviposition period, shortened the oviposition period and blocked ovarian development. Given their importance in gene regulation, we explored the role of miRNAs in shaping these phenotypes and their molecular triggers. Our results showed that one miRNA, miR‐275, suppressed DcVgR expression by binding to its 3' UTR. Overexpression of miR‐275 knocked down DcVgR expression and CLas titer in ovaries, causing reproductive defects that mimicked DcVgR knockdown phenotypes. We focused, further, on roles of the Juvenile Hormone (JH) pathway in shaping the observed fecundity phenotype, given its known impacts on ovarian development. After CLas infection, this pathway was upregulated, thereby increasing DcVgR expression. From these combined results, we conclude that CLas hijacks the JH signalling pathway and miR‐275, thereby targeting DcVgR to increase D. citri fecundity. These changes simultaneously increase CLas replication, suggesting a pathogen‐vector host mutualism, or a seemingly helpful, but cryptically costly life‐history manipulation.
AbstractDiaphorina citriis the primary vector of the bacterium, ‘CandidatusLiberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) associated with the severe Asian form of huanglongbing.CLas-positiveD. citriare more fecund than theirCLas-negative counterparts and require extra energy expenditure. Therefore, understanding the molecular mechanisms linking metabolism and reproduction is of particular importance. In this present study, we found adipokinetic hormone (DcAKH) and its receptor (DcAKHR) were essential for increased lipid metabolism and fecundity in response toCLas infection inD. citri.Knockdown ofDcAKHandDcAKHRnot only resulted in triacylglycerol accumulation and a decline of glycogen, but also significantly decreased fecundity andCLas titer in ovaries. Combinedin vivoandin vitroexperiments showed that miR-34 suppressesDcAKHRexpression by binding to its 3’ untranslated region, whilst overexpression of miR-34 resulted in a decline ofDcAKHRexpression andCLas titer in ovaries and caused defects that mimickedDcAKHRknockdown phenotypes. In addition, knockdown ofDcAKHandDcAKHRsignificantly reduced juvenile hormone (JH) titer and JH signaling pathway genes in fat bodies and ovaries, including the JH receptor,methoprene-tolerant(DcMet), and the transcription factor,Krüppel homolog 1 (DcKr-h1), that acts downstream of it, as well as the egg development related genesvitellogenin 1-like(DcVg-1-like),vitellogenin A1-like(DcVg-A1-like) and the vitellogenin receptor (DcVgR). As a result,CLas hijacks AKH/AKHR-miR-34-JH signaling to improveD. citrilipid metabolism and fecundity, while simultaneously increasing the replication ofCLas, suggesting a mutualistic interaction inD. citriovaries withCLas.
Huanglongbing, a globally devastating citrus disease, is associated with Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) and is mainly transmitted by Diaphorina citri. Verification of the distribution and dynamics of CLas in D. citri is critical to understanding CLas transmitted by vectors in nature. Here, the distribution and titers of CLas in different sexes and tissues of D. citri adults were investigated by fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Results showed that CLas had widespread distribution in the brain, salivary glands, digestive system, and reproductive system of both females and males, indicating a systemic infection of CLas in D. citri. Moreover, CLas fluorescence intensity and titers were significantly increased in both the digestive system and the female reproductive system with development and there was a marked decreased in both the salivary glands and the male brain, but there was no significant change in the female brain or the male reproductive system. Furthermore, the distribution and dynamics of CLas in embryos and nymphs were investigated. CLas was observed in all laid eggs and subsequent first–second-instar nymphs, indicating that a high percentage of embryos and nymphs resulting from infected D. citri mothers were infected with CLas.