A protocol to successfully transmit the huanglongbing (HLB) pathogen, ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, between citrus plants by using the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and an alternative way to help growers control ACP are proposed. Best results were obtained when pathogen acquisition by adults reared on fully symptomatic ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’-positive plants, latency, and inoculation occurred at ambient air temperatures ranging from 24 to 28°C and when a single infective adult ACP was confined for 7 days on soft, newly developing vegetative shoots (stages v2 to v4). No infection resulted from confinement of infective ACP adults on mature leaves (stage v6). Under the described conditions, single ACP adults could successfully transmit ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ to an average of 56.5% (35 to 83%) of plantlets with v2 to v4 shoots growing in 0.3-liter tubes and to 80.5% (76 to 86%) of plants with v2 to v4 shoots growing in 4.7-liter pots. The use of single insects and plantlets reduces labor, space, and other resources necessary to undertake transmission tests. It also reduces time needed for transmission studies and should help accelerate research on HLB. The results were used to develop an index for favorability to infection (IFI) to determine orchard vulnerabilities to ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’. The IFI is based on the heterogeneous population of new shoots that occurs on tree canopies and may offer alternative or complementary alternatives to the laborious and costly insect surveys currently used in most instances to determine threshold levels for insecticide applications.
The phloem-limited ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las) causes huanglongbing, a destructive citrus disease. Graft-inoculated potted plants were used to assess Las speed of movement in phloem in the greenhouse, and the impacts of temperature on plant colonization in growth-chamber experiments. For assessment of Las speed, plants were inoculated at the main stem and assessed over time by quantitative PCR (qPCR) or symptoms at various distances from the inoculum. For colonization, the plants were inoculated in one of two opposite top branches, maintained at from 8 to 20°C, from 18 to 30°C, or from 24 to 38°C daily range, and assessed by qPCR of samples taken from noninoculated shoots. For all experiments, frequencies of Las-positive sites were submitted to analysis of variance and binomial generalized linear model and logistic regression analyses. Probabilities of detecting Las in greenhouse plants were functions of time and distance from the inoculation site, which resulted in 2.9 and 3.8 cm day−1 average speed of movement. In growth chambers, the temperature impacted plant colonization by Las, new shoot emission, and symptom expression. After a 7-month exposure time, Las was absent in all new shoots in the cooler environment (average three per plant), and present in 70% at the milder environment (six shoots, severe symptoms) and 25% in the warmer environment (eight shoots, no visible symptoms). Temperature of 25.7°C was the optimum condition for plant colonization. This explains the higher impact and incidence of huanglongbing disease during the winter months or regions of milder climates in Brazil.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las) is an unculturable, phloem-limited, insect-transmitted bacterium associated with the Asiatic form of huanglongbing (HLB), the most destructive citrus disease. In Asia and the Americas, it is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwavama). Despite considerable research, little is known about the processes involved in plant infection and colonization by Las. This study was conducted to determine whether the basal portion (below girdling) of the plant is an important route for Las to move laterally from a point of inoculation on a branch to pathogen-free branches elsewhere in the canopy, and to quantify the influence of actively growing tissues on vertical upward (acropetally) or downward (basipetally) movement of Las. Nongirdled and fully or partially girdled stems of potted plants of ‘Pera’ sweet orange, graft-inoculated above or below girdling, were sampled in distinct regions and assessed by qPCR, 6 months postinoculation. Las invaded all regions of partially and nongirdled plants but remained restricted to the inoculated regions of fully girdled plants, evidence that in planta bacterium movement is limited to the phloem. In fully girdled plants, starch accumulated above the girdling site, probably because of changes in flow of phloem sap. To study the influence of actively growing tissues, inoculated ‘Valencia’ sweet orange plants were kept intact or were top- or root-pruned to force production of new tissues, and sampled at 15-day intervals. Las migrated rapidly and most predominantly toward newly developing root and leaf tissues. The rapid and predominant movement of Las to newly developed shoots and roots would explain failures of canopy heat treatments and pruning to cure HLB-affected trees, and reinforces the need to protect rapidly growing new shoots from feeding by D. citri in order to minimize transmission and spread of the pathogen by the vector within and between orchards.
Murraya paniculata and Swinglea glutinosa are aurantioid hosts of the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) Diaphorina citri, the principal vector of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las). Las is the pathogen associated with huanglongbing (HLB), the Asian form of which is the most devastating disease of Citrus species and cultivars (Rutaceae: Aurantioideae). M. paniculata is a common ornamental and S. glutinosa is grown as an ornamental, a citrus rootstock, and a hedgerow fence plant. Because of the uncertain status of these plants as reservoirs of Las, a series of cross-inoculation bioassays were carried out in different environments, using infected Valencia sweet orange (Citrus × aurantium) infected shoot tops as a source of inoculum and D. citri nymphs and adults reared on M. paniculata and S. glutinosa to inoculate pathogen-free Valencia orange plantlets. In contrast to sweet orange, Las was more unevenly distributed and reached much lower titers in M. paniculata and S. glutinosa. Infections in M. paniculata and S. glutinosa were also transient. Very few insects that successfully acquired Las from M. paniculata and S. glutinosa were able to transmit the pathogen to healthy citrus. Transmission rates were low from M. paniculata (1.0%) and S. glutinosa (2.0%) and occurred only in a controlled environment highly favorable to Las and ACP using 10-day-old adults that completed their life cycle on Las-positive plants. Our study showed that in HLB-endemic areas, M. paniculata and S. glutinosa can be deemed as epidemiologically dead-end hosts for Las and are not important alternative hosts of the pathogen for transmission to citrus. However, under a combination of conditions highly favorable to Las infection and transmission and in the absence of effective quarantine procedures, these plants could eventually serve as carriers of Las to regions currently free from HLB.
The objective of this work was to evaluate the reaction of four sweet orange cultivars expressing the attacin A gene to 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' (Las) infection, a bacterium associated to huanglongbing (HLB) disease. Transgenic sweet orange plants of Hamlin, Natal, Pêra, and Valência cultivars, as well as nontransgenic controls received inocula by grafting budwood sections of HLB-infected branches. Disease progression was evaluated through observations of leaf symptoms and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, eight months after inoculation. A completely randomized design was used, with four experiments (one for each cultivar) performed simultaneously. Bacteria title was estimated by quantitative PCR (qPCR). HLB symptoms and Las titers were present in nontransgenic and transgenic plants expressing the attacin A gene of the four sweet orange cultivars, eight months after bacteria inoculation. Five transgenic lines (transformation events) of 'Pêra' sweet orange expressing the attacin A gene have significantly lower Las titers in comparison with nontransgenic plants of this cultivar.