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.
AbstractA major bottleneck in identifying therapies to control citrus greening and other devastating plant diseases caused by fastidious pathogens is our inability to culture the pathogens in defined media or axenic cultures. As such, conventional approaches for antimicrobial evaluation (genetic or chemical) rely on time-consuming, low-throughput and inherently variable whole-plant assays. Here, we report that plant hairy roots support the growth of fastidious pathogens like Candidatus Liberibacter spp., the presumptive causal agents of citrus greening, potato zebra chip and tomato vein greening diseases. Importantly, we leverage the microbial hairy roots for rapid, reproducible efficacy screening of multiple therapies. We identify six antimicrobial peptides, two plant immune regulators and eight chemicals which inhibit Candidatus Liberibacter spp. in plant tissues. The antimicrobials, either singly or in combination, can be used as near- and long-term therapies to control citrus greening, potato zebra chip and tomato vein greening diseases.
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.
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.