AbstractHuanglongbing (HLB) causes significant economic loss in citrus production worldwide. HLB is caused by Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), a gram-negative bacterium which inhabits the phloem exclusively. CLas infection results in accumulation of callose and reactive oxygen species in the phloem of infected plants, but little is known about the specific processes that take place during infection because of the sparse distribution of bacteria and the inaccessibility of the phloem inside the tree. In this study, we used the seed vasculatures, which accumulate a high number of CLas, as a model tissue to study CLas-host cellular interactions. In vasculature where CLas is abundant, sieve pore callose and H2O2 concentration were reduced compared to healthy seed vasculature. The expression of callose synthases (CalS) and respiratory burst oxidase homolog (RBOH) genes were downregulated in infected seeds compared to healthy ones. In leaves of HLB-infected plants, H2O2 concentration and CalS expression increased compared to uninfected leaves, but cells with CLas had lower levels of sieve plate callose compared to cells without CLas. Our results provide evidence that the bacteria manipulate cell metabolism to disable plant defenses and suggests that HLB disease is the result of a constant arms-race between the pathogen and a defense response, which is ultimately harmful to the host plant.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las) is an emergent bacterial pathogen that is associated with the devastating citrus huanglongbing (HLB). Vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid, Las colonizes the phloem tissue of citrus, causing severe damage to infected trees. So far, cultivating pure Las culture in axenic media has not been successful, and dual-transcriptome analyses aiming to profile gene expression in both Las and its hosts have a low coverage of the Las genome because of the low abundance of bacterial RNA in total RNA extracts from infected tissues. Therefore, a lack of understanding of the Las transcriptome remains a significant knowledge gap. Here, we used a bacterial cell enrichment procedure and confidently determined the expression profiles of approximately 84% of the Las genes. Genes that exhibited high expression in citrus include transporters, ferritin, outer membrane porins, specific pilins, and genes involved in phage-related functions, cell wall modification, and stress responses. We also found 106 genes to be differentially expressed in citrus versus Asian citrus psyllids. Genes related to transcription or translation and resilience to host defense response were upregulated in citrus, whereas genes involved in energy generation and the flagella system were expressed to higher levels in psyllids. Finally, we determined the relative expression levels of potential Sec-dependent effectors, which are considered as key virulence factors of Las. This work advances our understanding of HLB biology and offers novel insight into the interactions of Las with its plant host and insect vector.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas), the devastating pathogen related to Huanglongbing (HLB), is a phloem-limited, fastidious, insect-borne bacterium. Rapid spread of HLB disease relies on CLas-efficient propagation in the vector, the Asian citrus psyllid Diaphorina citri, in a circulative manner. Understanding the intracellular lifecycle of CLas in psyllid midgut, the major organ for CLas transmission, is fundamental to improving current management strategies. Using a microscopic approach within CLas-infected insect midgut, we observed the entry of CLas into gut cells inside vesicles, termed Liberibacter-containing vacuoles (LCVs), by endocytosis. Endocytosis is followed by the formation of endoplasmic reticulum-related and replication permissive vacuoles (rLCVs). Additionally, we observed the formation of double membrane autophagosome-like structure, termed autophagy-related vacuole (aLCV). Vesicles containing CLas egress from aLCV and fuse with the cell membrane. Immunolocalization studies showed that CLas uses endocytosis- and exocytosis-like mechanisms that mediates bacterial invasion and egress. Upregulation of autophagy-related genes indicated subversion of host autophagy by CLas in psyllid vector to promote infection. These results indicate that CLas interacts with host cellular machineries to undergo a multistage intracellular cycle through endocytic, secretory, autophagic, and exocytic pathways via complex machineries. Potential tactics for HLB control can be made depending on further investigations on the knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of CLas intracellular cycle.
AbstractIn Florida, almost all citrus trees are infected with Huanglongbing (HLB), caused by the gram-negative, intracellular phloem limited bacteria Candidatus liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). Distinguishing between the severely and mildly sick trees is important for managing the groves and testing new HLB therapies. A mildly sick tree is one that produces higher fruit yield, compared to a severely sick tree, but measuring yields is laborious and time consuming. Here we characterized HLB affected sweet orange trees in the field in order to identify the specific traits that are correlated with the yields. We found that canopy volume, fruit detachment force (FDF) and the percentage of photosynthetically active radiation interception in the canopy (%INT) were positively correlated with fruit yields. Specifically, %INT measurements accurately distinguished between mild and severe trees in independent field trials. We could not find a difference in the Ct value between high and low producing HLB trees. Moreover, Ct values did not always agree with the number of CLas in the phloem that were visualized by transmission electron microscopy. Overall, our work identified an efficient way to distinguish between severe and mild HLB trees in Florida by measuring %INT and suggests that health of the canopy is more important for yields than the Ct value.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las) is an emergent bacterial pathogen that is associated with the devastating citrus Huanglongbing (HLB). Vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid, Las colonizes the phloem tissue of citrus, causing severe damage to infected trees. So far, cultivating pure Las culture in axenic media has not been successful and dual-transcriptome analyses aiming to profile gene expression in both Las and its host(s) have a low coverage of the Las genome due to the low abundance of bacterial RNA in total RNA extracts from infected tissues. Therefore, the lack of a Las transcriptome remains as a significant knowledge gap. Here, we used a bacterial cell enrichment procedure and confidently determined the expression profiles of approximately 84% of the Las genes. Genes that exhibited the highest expression levels in citrus include ion transporters, ferritin, outer membrane porins, and genes involved in phage-related functions, pilus formation, cell wall modification, and stress responses. One hundred and six genes were found to be differentially expressed in citrus vs psyllids. Genes related to transcription/translation and resilience to host defense response were upregulated in citrus; whereas genes involved in energy generation and the flagella system were expressed to higher levels in psyllids. We also determined the relative expression levels of potential Sec-dependent effectors, which are considered as key virulence factors of Las. This work advances our understanding of HLB biology and offers novel insight into the interactions of Las with its plant host and insect vector.
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.