‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las) is the prominent species of Liberibacter associated with huanglongbing, a devastating disease of citrus worldwide. In this study, we report the identification of an ∼8.3-kb DNA region of the Las genome containing eight putative open reading frames flanked by two inverted repeats, which was not present in the Las str. psy62 genome. Comparisons with other genome sequences established this region as a unique genetic element associated with genome plasticity/instability. Primers specific for both the presence (Las wild type) and absence (Las mutant) of this region were designed to study the population dynamics and host adaptation of the two strains. Las populations with and/or without the wild-type strain were detected and differentiated in >2,300 samples that included psyllids, periwinkle, and several species of citrus. In psyllids, although a mixed population of the wild type and mutant was observed in most samples (88%), the wild-type Las was detected alone at a rate of 11%. In contrast, none of the infected citrus plants were positive for the wild type alone, which harbored either the mutant strain alone (8%) or a mixed population of the mutant and wild type (92%). Furthermore, the dynamics of these two major Las populations varied with different citrus hosts, whereas an in-depth study on grapefruit that did not rapidly succumb to disease revealed that the population of mutant alone increased with time, indicating that the absence of this genetic element is associated with the fitness of Las in planta under the selection pressure of its host.
Citrus huanglongbing (HLB) is a devastating disease for the citrus industry. The previous studies demonstrated that oxytetracycline and penicillin are effective antibiotics against Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). However, since CLas is uncultured, the mechanisms of action of antibiotics against CLas are still unclear. It was recently reported that the endophytic microbial communities are associated with the progression of citrus HLB after oxytetracycline and penicillin treatment. Therefore, we hypothesize that penicillin has greater antibacterial activity against CLas than oxytetracycline, which may be associated with the alteration of the structure and function of endophytic microbial communities in HLB-affected citrus in response to these antibiotics. To test this hypothesis, the microbiome of HLB-affected citrus leaves treated with these two antibiotics was analyzed using a metagenomic method. Our results indicate that the microbial structure and function in HLB-affected citrus were altered by these two antibiotics. The relative abundance of beneficial bacterial species, including Streptomyces avermitilis and Bradyrhizobium, was higher in penicillin-treated plants compared to those treated with oxytetracycline, and the relative abundance of the bacterial species (such as Propionibacterium acnes and Synechocystis sp PCC 6803) associated with CLas survival was lower for penicillin-treated plants compared to oxytetracycline-treated plants. These results indicate that penicillin has greater antibacterial activity against CLas. Based on the metagenomic analysis, this study elucidated the mechanism for the observed increase in antibacterial activity of penicillin against CLas. The data presented here are not only invaluable for developing eco-friendly and effective biocontrol strategies to combat citrus HLB, but also provide a method for revealing mechanism of antimicrobial against uncultured bacteria in host.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is the pathogenic bacterium that causes the disease Huanglongbing (HLB) in citrus and some model plants, such as Nicotiana benthamiana. After infection, CLas releases a set of effectors to modulate host responses. One of these critical effectors is Sec-delivered effector 1 (SDE1), which induces chlorosis and cell death in N. benthamiana. In this study, we revealed the DEAD-box RNA helicase (DDX3) interacts with SDE1. Gene silencing study revealed that knockdown of the NbDDX3 gene triggers leaf chlorosis, mimicking the primary symptom of CLas infection in N. benthamiana. The interactions between SDE1 and NbDDX3 were localized in the cell membrane. Overexpression of SDE1 resulted in suppression of NbDDX3 gene expression in N. benthamiana, which suggests a critical role of SDE1 in modulating NbDDX3 expression. Furthermore, we verified the interaction of SDE1 with citrus DDX3 (CsDDX3), and demonstrated that the expression of the CsDDX3 gene was significantly reduced in HLB-affected yellowing and mottled leaves of citrus. Thus, we provide molecular evidence that the downregulation of the host DDX3 gene is a crucial mechanism of leaf chlorosis in HLB-affected plants. The identification of CsDDX3 as a critical target of SDE1 and its association with HLB symptom development indicates that the DDX3 gene is an important target for gene editing, to interrupt the interaction between DDX3 and SDE1, and therefore interfere host susceptibility.
Background: 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' (Las) is the pathogenic bacterium that causes Huanglongbing in citrus plants, as well as in several types of experimental plants. Las releases a set of effectors to modulate host responses. One of these critical effectors is Sec-delivered effector 1 (SDE1), which induces chlorosis in Nicotiana benthamiana. Results: Four SDE1-interacting proteins were identified from N. benthamiana, including DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3, 26S proteasome non-ATPase regulatory subunit PSMD14, an ARM repeat protein, and a hypothetical protein. Gene silencing revealed that knockdown of the NbDDX3 gene led to chlorosis in N. benthamiana leaves. Fluorescent signal detection revealed that SDE1 was localized to the cell membrane, cytoplasm, and nucleus. Simultaneously, NbDD3 was expressed in cytoplasmic vesicles, as well as in the cell membrane. The interactions between SDE1 and NbDDX3 were shown to be localized on cell membrane using co-localization and bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis. Moreover, the transcription of NbDDX3 gene was substantially suppressed in N. benthamiana plants that expressed SDE1. Conclusion: Las effector SDE1 interacts with NbDDX3 at the cell membrane. Most importantly, the transient expression of SDE1 exerts a suppression effect on the transcription of NbDDX3 gene. The silencing of NbDDX3 leads to leaf chlorosis in N. benthamiana. This provided evidence to understand the molecular events in association with chlorosis induced by SDE1.