It has been nearly 100 years since citrus growers in two distinct regions in the northern provinces of South Africa noticed unusual symptoms in their citrus trees, causing significant crop losses. They had no idea that these symptoms would later become part of an almost global pandemic of a disease called greening or huanglongbing (HLB). The rapid spread of the disease indicated that it might be caused by a transmissible pathogen, but it took >50 years to identify the causative agent as ‘Candidatus Liberibacter africanus’. Recently, the disease appeared in more African countries, spreading by both infected planting material and Trioza erytreae. To date, five ‘Ca. L. africanus’ subspecies have been identified in various rutaceous species, with ‘Ca. L. africanus subsp. clausenae’ the only subspecies for which a biovar was detected in citrus. Efforts to detect and differentiate HLB-causing Liberibacter species are ongoing, and recent developments are discussed here. This review focuses on aspects of the African form of HLB, including its specific bacterial species and subspecies, its main insect vector, its geographic distribution, and current management strategies.
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.
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.