Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) causes the devastating citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB). Young flushes are the center of the HLB pathosystem due to their roles in the psyllid life cycle and in the acquisition and transmission of CLas. However, the early events of CLas infection and how CLas modulates young flush physiology remain poorly understood. Here, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis showed the mean diameter of the sieve pores decreased in young leaves of HLB-positive trees after CLas infection, consistent with CLas-triggered callose deposition. RNA-Seq-based global expression analysis of young leaves of HLB-positive sweet orange with (CLas-Pos) and without (CLas-Neg) detectable CLas demonstrated a significant impact on gene expression in young leaves, including on the expression of genes involved in host immunity, stress response, and plant hormone biosynthesis and signaling. CLas-Pos and CLas-Neg expression data displayed distinct patterns. The number of upregulated genes was higher than that of the downregulated genes in CLas-Pos for the following categories: plant-pathogen interactions, glutathione metabolism, peroxisome, and calcium signaling that are commonly associated with pathogen infections compared to healthy control. On the contrary, the number of upregulated genes was lower than that of the downregulated genes in CLas-Neg for genes involved in plant-pathogen interactions and peroxisome. Additionally, qRT-PCR based expression analysis temporally visualized the induced expression of companion cell specific genes, phloem protein 2 (PP2) genes, and sucrose transport genes in young flush triggered by CLas. This study advances our understanding of early events during CLas infection of citrus young flushes.
AbstractThe immune system is critical for keeping animals and plants healthy from pathogens. However, immune-mediated diseases are also common for human. Immune-mediated diseases have not been reported for plants. Here, we present evidence that citrus Huanglongbing (HLB), caused by phloem-colonizing Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), is an immune-mediated disease. CLas infection of Citrus sinensis stimulated systemic and chronic immune response in the phloem tissues including reactive oxygen species (ROS) production as indicated by H2O2, callose deposition, and induction of immune related genes. Systemic cell death of companion and sieve element cells, but not surrounding parenchyma cells, was observed following ROS production triggered by CLas. ROS production triggered by CLas localized in phloem tissues. The H2O2 concentration in exudates extracted from phloem enriched bark tissue of CLas infected plants reached a threshold of killing citrus protoplast cells, which was suppressed by uric acid (a ROS scavenger) and gibberellin. Foliar spray of HLB positive citrus with antioxidants (uric acid and rutin) and gibberellin significantly reduced both H2O2 concentrations and cell death in phloem tissues induced by CLas and reduced HLB symptoms. RNA-seq analyses of CLas infected and health C. sinensis support that CLas causes oxidative stress. In sum, HLB is an immune-mediated disease and both mitigating ROS via antioxidants and promoting plant growth can reduce cell death of the phloem tissues caused by CLas, thus controlling HLB.
“Candidatus Liberibacter” species are associated with economically devastating diseases of citrus, potato, and many other crops. The importance of these diseases as well as the proliferation of new diseases on a wider host range is likely to increase as the insects vectoring the “Ca. Liberibacter” species expand their territories worldwide. Here, we review the progress on understanding pathogenesis mechanisms of “Ca. Liberibacter” species and the control approaches for diseases they cause. We discuss the Liberibacter virulence traits, including secretion systems, putative effectors, and lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), as well as other important traits likely to contribute to disease development, e.g., flagella, prophages, and salicylic acid hydroxylase. The pathogenesis mechanisms of Liberibacters are discussed. Liberibacters secrete Sec-dependent effectors (SDEs) or other virulence factors into the phloem elements or companion cells to interfere with host targets (e.g., proteins or genes), which cause cell death, necrosis, or other phenotypes of phloem elements or companion cells, leading to localized cell responses and systemic malfunction of phloem. Receptors on the remaining organelles in the phloem, such as plastid, vacuole, mitochondrion, or endoplasmic reticulum, interact with secreted SDEs and/or other virulence factors secreted or located on the Liberibacter outer membrane to trigger cell responses. Some of the host genes or proteins targeted by SDEs or other virulence factors of Liberibacters serve as susceptibility genes that facilitate compatibility (e.g., promoting pathogen growth or suppressing immune responses) or disease development. In addition, Liberibacters trigger plant immunity response via pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs, such as lipopolysaccharides), which leads to premature cell death, callose deposition, or phloem protein accumulation, causing a localized response and/or systemic effect on phloem transportation. Physical presence of Liberibacters and their metabolic activities may disturb the function of phloem, via disrupting osmotic gradients, or the integrity of phloem conductivity. We also review disease management strategies, including promising new technologies. Citrus production in the presence of Huanglongbing is possible if the most promising management approaches are integrated. HLB management is discussed in the context of local, area-wide, and regional Huanglongbing/Asian Citrus Psyllid epidemiological zones. For zebra chip disease control, aggressive psyllid management enables potato production, although insecticide resistance is becoming an issue. Meanwhile, new technologies such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-derived genome editing provide an unprecedented opportunity to provide long-term solutions.