Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, is one of the most devastating citrus diseases worldwide. Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) is the most prevalent strain associated with HLB, which is yet to be cultured in vitro. None of the commercial citrus cultivars are resistant to HLB. The pathosystem of Ca. Liberibacter is complex and remains a mystery. In this review, we focus on the recent progress in genomic research on the pathogen, the interaction of host and CLas, and the influence of CLas infection on the transcripts, proteins, and metabolism of the host. We have also focused on the identification of candidate genes for CLas pathogenicity or the improvements of HLB tolerance in citrus. In the end, we propose potentially promising areas for mechanistic studies of CLas pathogenicity, defense regulators, and genetic improvement for HLB tolerance/resistance in the future.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most destructive diseases of citrus worldwide. The three known causal agents of HLB are species of α-proteobacteria: ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, ‘Ca. L. africanus’, and ‘Ca. L. americanus’. Previous studies have found distinct variations in temperature sensitivity and tolerance among these species. Here, we describe the use of controlled heat treatments to cure HLB caused by ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’, the most prevalent and heat-tolerant species. Using temperature-controlled growth chambers, we evaluated the time duration and temperature required to suppress or eliminate the ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ bacterium in citrus, using various temperature treatments for time periods ranging from 2 days to 4 months. Results of quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) after treatment illustrate significant decreases in the ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ bacterial titer, combined with healthy vigorous growth by all surviving trees. Repeated qPCR testing confirmed that previously infected, heat-treated plants showed no detectable levels of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’, while untreated control plants remained highly infected. Continuous thermal exposure to 40 to 42°C for a minimum of 48 h was sufficient to significantly reduce titer or eliminate ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ bacteria entirely in HLB-affected citrus seedlings. This method may be useful for the control of ‘Ca. Liberibacter’-infected plants in nursery and greenhouse settings.