The Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) is a pest of citrus and the primary insect vector of the bacterial pathogen, ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas), which is associated with citrus greening disease. The citrus relative Murraya paniculata (orange jasmine) is a host plant of D. citri but is more resistant to CLas compared with all tested Citrus genotypes. The effect of host switching of D. citri between Citrus medica (citron) and M. paniculata plants on the acquisition and transmission of CLas was investigated. The psyllid CLas titer and the proportion of CLas-infected psyllids decreased in the generations after transfer from CLas-infected citron to healthy M. paniculata plants. Furthermore, after several generations of feeding on M. paniculata, pathogen acquisition (20 to 40% reduction) and transmission rates (15 to 20% reduction) in psyllids transferred to CLas-infected citron were reduced compared with psyllids continually maintained on infected citron. Top-down (difference gel electrophoresis) and bottom-up (shotgun MS/MS) proteomics methods were used to identify changes in D. citri protein expression resulting from host plant switching between Citrus macrophylla and M. paniculata. Changes in expression of insect metabolism, immunity, and cytoskeleton proteins were associated with host plant switching. Both transient and sustained feeding on M. paniculata induced distinct patterns of protein expression in D. citri compared with psyllids reared on C. macrophylla. The results point to complex interactions that affect vector competence and may lead to strategies to control the spread of citrus greening disease.
The 22–amino acid (flg22) pathogen-associated molecular pattern from the flagellin of Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri has been shown to induce defense responses correlated with citrus canker resistance. Here, flg22 of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, the putative causal agent of Huanglongbing (HLB), elicited differential defense responses that were weaker than those from Xcc-flg22, between those of the HLB-tolerant mandarin cultivar Sun Chu Sha and susceptible grapefruit cultivar Duncan. Transcriptomics was used to compare the effect of CLas-flg22 and Xcc-flg22 between the citrus genotypes and identified 86 genes induced only by CLas-flg22 in the tolerant mandarin. Expression of 16 selected genes was validated, by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and was evaluated in citrus during ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection. Differential expression of a number of genes occurred between tolerant and susceptible citrus infected with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’, suggesting their involvement in HLB tolerance. In addition, several genes were similarly regulated by CLas-flg22 and ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ treatments, while others were oppositely regulated in the tolerant mandarin, suggesting similarity and interplay between CLas-flg22 and ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’–triggered defenses. Genes identified are valuable in furthering the study of HLB tolerance mechanisms and, potentially, for screening for HLB-tolerant citrus using CLas-flg22 as a pathogen proxy.
Assessments of the resistance of citrus germplasm to huanglongbing (HLB) can be expedited by inoculating plants under laboratory or greenhouse settings with the HLB bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). Consistent rapid screening is critical to efficiently assess disease resistance among plant materials; however, a number of factors may govern the efficacy of such inoculations. Despite the rapidity at which HLB can spread in a grove, it often takes 8 to 10 months for high levels of CLas and HLB symptoms to develop even in highly susceptible sweet orange. Therefore, two experiments were conducted to assess factors that might influence efficiency in screening for HLB resistance. In one experiment, three test citrus genotypes (‘Kuharske’, previously shown to be HLB resistant; rough lemon, previously shown to be HLB tolerant; and ‘Valencia’, HLB susceptible) were bud grafted using CLas-infected buds from four different source genotypes. All bud source genotypes had similar levels of CLas titer, but citron, rough lemon, and Volkamer lemon were hypothesized to be better bud inoculum sources as they are more tolerant of HLB than ‘Valencia’. Among the three test genotypes over all sources of infected buds, inoculations of ‘Kuharske’ resulted in lower CLas titers and fewer HLB symptoms than inoculations of rough lemon or ‘Valencia’. Inoculations of rough lemon resulted in higher CLas titers and more pronounced HLB symptoms when it was inoculated using infected buds from rough lemon or ‘Valencia’. Grafting ‘Valencia’ with infected buds from Volkamer lemon resulted in less disease than when ‘Valencia’ was grafted with infected citron, rough lemon, or ‘Valencia’ buds. Overall, these results suggest that the source of CLas-infected buds used to graft-inoculate some genotypes will influence disease development. Trunk cross-sectional area increase for the year following infection was 3× higher in ‘Kuharske’ and rough lemon, compared with ‘Valencia’. ‘Kuharske’ had very low levels of CLas (30 CLas/µg DNA), whereas ‘Valencia’ (43,000 CLas/µg DNA) and rough lemon (6700 CLas/ µg DNA) had relatively high levels. As an alternative to graft-inoculating plants with CLas-infected buds, plants can be subjected to infestations of CLas-infected Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) as occurs naturally. Of interest is if transmission rates of CLas and the development of HLB in a genotype are greater when the ACP have been feeding on the same host genotype. An experiment was therefore conducted to assess transmission of CLas by ACP reared on CLas-infected rough lemon to five different genotypes (‘Carrizo’, ‘Flame’ grapefruit, rough lemon, ‘Temple’, and ‘Valencia’). These assessments were made using a detached leaf assay recognized as a faster method of gauging transmission rates of CLas than using whole plants. Higher percentages of ACP died when they were transferred from infected rough lemon to healthy ‘Carrizo’, and lower percentages died when they were transferred to rough lemon or ‘Flame’. However, CLas transmission by infected ACP occurred to at least some leaves of each genotype in each of the five different assays, with 70% or more leaves of each genotype becoming infected in at least one assay. Over all assays, there was relatively little variation among genotypes in the percentage of leaves becoming CLas infected and in the titer of CLas developing in infected leaves. However, there were relatively large differences in transmission rates among individual assays unrelated to differences among test genotypes. Because of the rapidity of the detached leaf assay, efforts are merited to improve consistency of this inoculation method.