Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most destructive diseases in citrus, which imperils the sustainability of citriculture worldwide. The presumed causal agent of HLB, ‘<i>Candidatus</i> Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is a non-culturable phloem-limited α-proteobacterium transmitted by Asian citrus psyllids (ACP, <i>Diaphorina citri</i> Kuwayama). A widely adopted method for HLB diagnosis is based on quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Although HLB diagnostic qPCR provides high sensitivity and good reproducibility, it is limited by time-consuming DNA preparation from plant tissue or ACP and the requirement of proper lab instruments including a thermal cycler to conduct qPCR. In an attempt to develop a quick assay that can be deployed in the field for CLas detection, we developed a real-time loop-mediated isothermal amplification (rt-LAMP) assay by targeting the CLas five copy <i>nrd</i>B gene. The rt-LAMP assay using various plant sample types and psyllids successfully detected the <i>nrd</i>B target as low as ~2.6 Log<sub>10</sub> copies. Although the rt-LAMP assay was less sensitive than laboratory-based qPCR (detection limit ~10 copies), the data obtained with citrus leaf and bark and ACP showed that the rt-LAMP assay has >96% CLas detection rate, compared to that of laboratory-based qPCR. However, the CLas detection rate in fibrous roots was significantly decreased compared to qPCR due to low CLas titer in some root DNA sample. We also demonstrated that the rt-LAMP assay can be used with a crude leaf DNA extract which is fully deployable in the field for quick and reliable HLB screening.
Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB, also known as “citrus greening”), an important disease worldwide, is associated with three species of phloem-limited Candidatus liberibacter, of which Candidatus L. asiaticus (CLas) is the predominant one that has severely affected citrus production. TaqMan real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (TM) has been the standard and very efficient method to diagnose several strains of Candidatus Liberibacter in citrus; however, it detects total bacteria and is unable to differentiate dead from live Liberibacter. The detection of only live bacteria is essential for testing methods of control for this important citrus disease. It is well known that ethidium monoazide and propidium monoazide (PMA) are compounds that supposedly enter only dead or membrane-damaged bacteria, intercalate the DNA strand, and make the DNA unavailable for amplification by PCR. These compounds are widely used when extracting the plant DNA to detect only live bacteria. In this research, we tested primers amplifying products from 79 to 1160 bp in TM and SYBR Green real-time PCR (SG) and PMA as DNA intercalating compound. Specifically, primers amplifying a 500-bp amplicon in SG provided the most reliable live-only detection, whereas those producing a smaller amplicon were unable to distinguish between live and dead. This is the first report of testing primers amplifying various amplicon sizes for the detection of only live CLas cells in citrus.
AbstractHuanglongbing (HLB), or Citrus Greening, is one of the most devastating diseases affecting agriculture today. Widespread throughout Citrus growing regions of the world, it has had severe economic consequences in all areas it has invaded. With no treatment available, management strategies focus on suppression and containment. Effective use of these costly control strategies relies on rapid and accurate identification of infected plants. Unfortunately, symptoms of the disease are slow to develop and indistinct from symptoms of other biotic/abiotic stressors. As a result, diagnosticians have focused on detecting the pathogen, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, by DNA-based detection strategies utilizing leaf midribs for sampling. Recent work has shown that fibrous root decline occurs in HLB-affected trees before symptom development among leaves. Moreover, the pathogen, Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus, has been shown to be more evenly distributed within roots than within the canopy. Motivated by these observations, a longitudinal study of young asymptomatic trees was established to observe the spread of disease through time and test the relative effectiveness of leaf- and root-based detection strategies. Detection of the pathogen occurred earlier, more consistently, and more often in root samples than in leaf samples. Moreover, little influence of geography or host variety was found on the probability of detection.
Huanglongbing (HLB, citrus greening disease) in the major citrus-producing states of the United States is associated with Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), which is vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). Surveys were conducted in Texas from 2007 to 2017 to assess the prevalence and titer of CLas in ACPs and citrus trees. ACP and citrus leaf tissue samples were collected from suspect trees in residential areas and commercial groves (orchards) and assayed for CLas by quantitative PCR. CLas detection in ACPs (2011) preceded that of citrus trees (2012) by several months. Annual incidences of CLas-positive ACPs and leaf tissue followed an exponential growth pattern over the survey period, varying from 0.03 to 28.7% in ACPs and 0.6 to 36.5% in citrus trees. There was a significant and positive relationship between the monthly incidences of CLas-positive ACP and leaf tissue samples. The proportion of HLB detection sites also increased with time, reaching 26 and 40% of commercial groves and residential sites, respectively, by 2017. Seasonal variations were observed in the incidences of CLas-positive ACPs and citrus trees such that significantly more CLas-positive ACPs and trees were recorded during the fall and winter of a given year relative to the hot summer. A temporal analysis of the class distribution of cycle threshold values revealed a trend of increased bacterial accumulation in ACPs and trees over time, with the trend more pronounced for the former than the latter host type. These findings provide a comprehensive insight into the ongoing CLas/HLB epidemic in Texas, with potential lessons for California and other citrus-producing areas where the disease is not yet established.
We report here the draft genome sequence of “
Liberibacter asiaticus” strain TX2351, collected from Asian citrus psyllids in south Texas, USA. The TX2351 genome has a size of 1,252,043 bp, a G+C content of 36.5%, 1,184 predicted open reading frames, and 52 RNA genes.
Detection of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ represents one of the most difficult, yet critical, steps of controlling Huanglongbing disease. Efficient detection relies on understanding the underlying distribution of bacteria within trees. To that end, we studied the distribution of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ in leaves of ‘Rio Red’ grapefruit trees and in roots of ‘Valencia’ sweet orange trees grafted onto sour orange rootstock. We performed two sets of leaf collection on grapefruit trees; the first a selective sampling targeting symptomatic leaves and their neighbors and the second a systematic collection disregarding symptomology. From uprooted orange trees, we exhaustively sampled fibrous roots. In this study, the presence of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ was detected in leaves using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting the 16S ribosomal gene and in roots using the rpIJ/rpIL ribosomal protein genes and was confirmed with conventional PCR and sequencing of the rpIJ/rpIL gene in both tissues. Among randomly collected leaves, ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ was distributed in a patchy fashion. Detection of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ varied with leaf symptomology with symptomatic leaves showing the highest frequency (74%) followed by their neighboring asymptomatic leaves (30%), while randomly distributed asymptomatic leaves had the lowest frequency (20%). Among symptomatic leaves, we found statistically significant differences in mean number of bacterial cells with respect to both increasing distance of the leaf from the trunk and cardinal direction. The titer of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ cells was significantly greater on the north side of trees than on the south and west sides. Moreover, these directions showed different spatial distributions of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ with higher titers near the trunk on the south and west sides as opposed to further from the trunk on the north side. Similarly, we found spatial variation in ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ distribution among root samples. ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ was detected more frequently and bacterial abundances were higher among horizontally growing roots just under the soil surface (96%) than among deeper vertically growing roots (78%). Bacterial abundance declined slightly with distance from the trunk. These results point to paths of research that will likely prove useful to combating this devastating disease.
Zebra chip disease of potato is caused by the bacterial pathogen ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ and is a growing concern for commercial potato production in several countries in North and Central America and New Zealand. ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ is vectored by the potato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli, which transmits the pathogen to several cultivated and wild solanaceaous host plants. Silverleaf nightshade (SLN), Solanum elaeagnifolium, is a common weed in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and a host for both the potato psyllid and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’. SLN plants were successfully inoculated with ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ under laboratory conditions. Retention studies demonstrated that ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-infected SLN planted in the field in January 2013, concurrent with commercial potato planting, retained the pathogen under field conditions throughout the year despite extensive dieback during summer. The presence of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ was confirmed in leaves, roots, and stolons of SLN plants collected the following year using polymerase chain reaction. Acquisition assays using B. cockerelli adults also revealed that SLN retained the pathogen. Transmission studies determined that B. cockerelli can acquire ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ within a 2-week acquisition access period on ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-infected SLN and subsequently transmit the pathogen to potato. These results demonstrate that SLN plants can serve as a reservoir for ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’, providing a source of inoculum for B. cockerelli adults colonizing potato the next season. The presence of SLN plants all year round in the LRGV makes the weed an epidemiologically important host. These findings underscore the importance of eradicating or managing SLN plants growing in the vicinity of potato fields to prevent spread of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and damage caused by zebra chip.
The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama, one of the known vectors for citrus greening disease or Huanglongbing (HLB) pathogens, has been present in Texas for over a decade, but the detection of the disease is recent. HLB has been confirmed in only two adjacent commercial citrus groves of grapefruit and sweet orange. A study was conducted to compare the population of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) cells in different plant parts including peduncle, columella, leaves, seeds, young shoots, flower buds, flowers, and bark of 6-year-old known infected grapefruit and sweet orange trees. The bacterial population was estimated using a previously described grand universal regression equation Y = 13.82 – 0.2866X, where Y is the log of the target copy number and X is the Ct (threshold cycle) of the assay. Except for bark tissue, there was no significant difference in the concentration of CLas cells in other plant parts between the two cultivars. Within the cultivar, the bacterial concentration also varied with the plant part, with peduncle, columella, midrib having significantly higher titer of CLas compared with other plant parts. The obtained results here are in agreement with previous studies conducted on Florida samples, but the consistently lowest bacterial titer recorded in young shoots, leaf blade, and especially leaf margins relative to the midrib has never been previously reported.
Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, associated with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas), is primarily spread via infected citrus nursery trees and by infective Asian citrus psyllid, the insect vector. Recently, the Texas Department of Agriculture initiated regulations requiring commercial and retail citrus nurseries in Texas to transition from traditional open-field to enclosed facilities with insect-resistant screens to mitigate the risk of nurseries serving as sources of CLas. Although several nursery production facilities have adopted this regulation, non-enclosed nurseries persist and pose a significant threat to the citrus industry as potential sources of CLas. A systematic survey for HLB was embarked on in a semi-open nursery facility in South Texas in April 2014. Leaf tissue samples taken from 94 trees representing 5% of the total number of potted trees in the nursery were tested for CLas by quantitative and conventional PCR assays. Of 94 trees tested, 3.2% (3 trees) were positive for CLas by both assays. The presence of CLas in the PCR-positive samples was confirmed by multi-locus sequence analyses. The results represent the first report of HLB in a nursery facility in Texas, and underscore the need for more intensive surveillance for HLB in citrus nursery stock as an integral component of HLB mitigation efforts in Texas. Accepted for publication 27 August 2014. Published 15 December 2014.