‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is a major causal agent of citrus Huanglongbing (HLB), which is transmitted by Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri, causing severe losses in various regions of the world. Vector efficiency is higher when acquisition occurs by ACP immature stages and over longer feeding periods. In this context, our goal was to evaluate the progression of CLas population and infection rate over four ACP generations that continuously developed on infected citrus plants. We showed that the frequency of CLas-positive adult samples increased from 42% in the parental generation to 100% in the fourth generation developing on CLas-infected citrus. The bacterial population in the vector also increased over generations. This information reinforces the importance of HLB management strategies, such as vector control and eradication of diseased citrus trees, to avoid the development of CLas-infected ACP generations with higher bacterial loads and, likely, a higher probability of spreading the pathogen in citrus orchards.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is a destructive disease of citrus caused by phloem-limited bacteria, namely ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las), ‘Candidatus Liberibacter africanus’, and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter americanus’. Although there are no known HLB-resistant citrus species, studies have reported Poncirus trifoliata as being more tolerant. Assuming that callose deposition in the phloem of infected plants can inhibit translocation of photosynthetic products and cause starch accumulation, we compared callose deposition in petioles and starch accumulation in infected leaves of three genotypes (Citrus sinensis, C. sunki, and P. trifoliata) and 15 hybrids (C. sunki × P. trifoliata). Compared with the mock-inoculated plants, higher bacterial counts and greater accumulation of callose and starch were found in C. sinensis, C. sunki, and 10 of the hybrid plants. Lower titer and fewer metabolic changes due to Las infection were observed in P. trifoliata and in two Las-positive hybrids while three hybrids were Las-negative. Callose accumulation was linked to and correlated with genes involved in phloem functionality and starch accumulation was linked to up-regulation of genes involved in starch biosynthesis and repression of those related to starch breakdown. Lower expression of genes involved in phloem functionality in resistant and tolerant plants can partially explain the absence of distinct disease symptoms associated with starch accumulation that are usually observed in HLB-susceptible genotypes.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is considered one of the most destructive diseases of citrus because the plants rapidly become unproductive, enter a decline, and eventually die. HLB is caused by the phloem-limited bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ spp. The objective of this study was to evaluate seasonal variation of the in planta population of ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ in the foliage of citrus trees in Brazil using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Eleven plants (naturally infected, then screened) in the field with very mild and localized symptoms of HLB were confirmed to be ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infected by conventional PCR, and the canopies were divided into four quadrants. The bacterial population in the trees was tested on a monthly basis for up to 20 months by quantifying ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ DNA using qPCR ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’-specific primers (As84F/As180R). The average cycle threshold (Ct) values, which relate to ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ titer, were analyzed using a mixed model. Significant differences were observed in Ct values between seasons (F = 8.77, P = 0.0004), and abrupt changes were observed in Ct values in different quadrants of the trees. Autumn had the lowest Ct values, indicating the highest ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ titer, and, thus, is considered the best period to detect ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection in foliage of citrus trees in southern Brazil. In addition to the seasonal changes in Ct values, there was an initial decline in the Ct value in the months following initial detection, the rate of decline slowing with time. Concomitant with the increase of the bacterial population in the host, there was an increase in severity of HLB symptoms in the trees over time (Spearman’s rank correlation, r = −0.4083, P < 0.0001). The results identify the optimal season to sample foliage for ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ in southern Brazil (autumn) and confirm the importance of sample timing to maximize detection of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ and, thus, contribute to the search for effective measures to manage HLB.
Huanglongbing (HLB), caused by the bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ spp., is currently one of the most serious diseases of citrus plants and has caused substantial economic losses. Thus far, there is no source of genetic resistance to HLB in the genus Citrus or its relatives. However, several studies have reported Poncirus trifoliata and some of its hybrids to be more tolerant to the disease. The main objective of this study was to report differences in the incidence of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection in citrandarin plants, hybrids from Sunki mandarin (Citrus sunki (Hayata) hort. ex Tanaka), and trifoliate orange Rubidoux (P. trifoliata (L.) Raf.)), after conducting an extensive survey under field conditions. These hybrid plants were established for approximately 7 years in an area with a high incidence of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’-infected plants. We selected two experimental areas (area A and area B), located approximately 10 m apart. Area A consists of Pera sweet orange (C. sinensis (L.) Osb.) grafted onto 56 different citrandarin rootstocks. Area B consists of citrandarin scions grafted onto Rangpur lime (C. limonia Osb.) rootstock. Bacteria in the leaves and roots were detected using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The incidence of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’-infected plants was 92% in area A and 14% in area B. Because infected plants occurred in both areas, we examined whether the P. trifoliata hybrid rootstock influenced HLB development and also determined the distribution of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ in Citrus tree tissues. Although this survey does not present evidence regarding the resistance of P. trifoliata and its hybrids in relation to bacteria or psyllids, future investigation, mainly using the most promising hybrids for response to ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’, will help us to understand the probable mechanism of defense or identifying compounds in P. trifoliata and its hybrids that are very important as strategy to combat HLB. Details of these results are presented and discussed in this article.