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.
Streptomycin (STR) has been used to control citrus huanglongbing (HLB) caused by ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) via foliar spray. Here, we studied the residue dynamics of STR and its effect on CLas titers in planta applied by foliar spray and trunk injection of 3-year-old citrus trees that were naturally infected by CLas in the field. After foliar spray, STR levels in leaves peaked at 2 to 7 days postapplication (dpa) and gradually declined thereafter. The STR spray did not significantly affect CLas titers in leaves of treated plants as determined by quantitative PCR. After trunk injection, peak levels of STR were observed 7 to 14 dpa in the leaf and root tissues, and near-peak levels were sustained for another 14 days before significantly declining. At 12 months after injection, moderate to low or undetectable levels of STR were observed in the leaf, root, and fruit, depending on the doses of STR injected, with a residue level of 0.28 µg/g in harvested fruit at the highest injection concentration of 2.0 µg/tree. CLas titers in leaves were significantly reduced by trunk injection of STR at 1.0 or 2.0 g/tree, starting from 7 dpa and throughout the experimental period. The reduction of CLas titers was positively correlated with STR residue levels in leaves. The in planta minimum effective concentration of STR needed to suppress the CLas titer to an undetectable level (cycle threshold ≥36.0) was 1.92 µg/g fresh weight. Determination of the in planta minimum effective concentration of STR against CLas and its spatiotemporal residue levels in planta provides the guidance to use STR for HLB management.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is the predominant causal agent of citrus huanglongbing, the most devastating citrus disease worldwide. CLas colonizes phloem tissue and causes phloem dysfunction. The pathogen population size in local tissues and in the whole plant is critical for the development of disease symptoms by determining the load of pathogenicity factors and metabolic burden to the host. However, the total population size of CLas in a whole plant and the ratio of CLas to citrus cells in local tissues have not been addressed previously. The total CLas population size for 2.5-year-old ‘Valencia’ sweet orange on ‘Kuharske’ citrange rootstock trees was quantified using quantitative PCR to be approximately 1.74 × 109 cells/tree, whereas 7- and 20-year-old sweet orange trees were estimated to be 4.3 × 1010 cells/tree, and 6.0 × 1010 cells/tree, respectively. The majority of CLas cells were distributed in leaf tissues (55.58%), followed by those in branch (36.78%), feeder root (4.75%), trunk (2.39%), and structural root (0.51%) tissues. The ratios of citrus cells to CLas cells for branch, leaf, trunk, feeder root, and structural root samples were within approximately 39 to 79, 44 to 124, 153 to 1,355, 191 to 1,054, and 561 to 3,760, respectively, representing the metabolic burden of CLas in different organs. It was estimated that the ratios of phloem cells to CLas cells for branch, leaf, trunk, feeder root, and structural root samples are approximately 0.39 to 0.79, 0.44 to 1.24, 1.53 to 13.55, 1.91 to 10.54, and 5.61 to 37.60, respectively. Approximately 0.01% of the total citrus phloem volume was estimated to be occupied by CLas, explaining the difficulty to observe CLas in most tissues under transmission electron microscopy. The CLas titer inside the leaf was estimated to be approximately 1.64 × 106 cells/leaf or 9.2 × 104 cells cm–2 in leaves, approximately 104 times less than that of typical apoplastic bacterial pathogens. This study provides quantitative estimates of phloem colonization by bacterial pathogens and furthers the understanding of the biology and virulence mechanisms of CLas.
Huanglongbing (HLB) or greening currently is the most devastating citrus disease worldwide. The fastidious phloem-colonizing bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is the causal agent of citrus HLB in Florida. Bactericides containing the active ingredient oxytetracycline (OTC) have been used in foliar spray to control citrus HLB in Florida since 2016. However, the minimum concentration of OTC required to suppress CLas in planta remains unknown. We developed a new method for evaluating the effects of OTC treatment on CLas titers in infected plants and determined the relationship between OTC residue levels and control levels achieved for CLas using mathematical modeling in greenhouse and field experiments. In both greenhouse and field, OTC spray did not reduce the titers of CLas, and it produced undetectable or mild levels of OTC residue in leaves within 7 days post-application (DPA). In greenhouse, OTC injection at 0.05 g per tree decreased CLas titers to an undetectable level (cycle threshold value ≥ 36.0) from 7 to 30 DPA and produced a residue level of OTC at 0.68 to 0.73 µg/g of fresh tissue over this period. In the field, OTC injection at 0.50 g per tree resulted in the decline of CLas titers by 1.52 log reduction from 14 to 60 DPA, with residue levels of OTC at 0.27 to 0.33 µg/g of fresh tissue. In both trials, a first-order compart model of OTC residue dynamics in leaves of trunk-injected trees was specified for estimating the retention of effective concentrations. Furthermore, nonlinear modeling revealed significant positive correlations between OTC residue levels in leaves and the control levels for CLas achieved. The results suggested that the minimum concentrations of OTC required to suppress CLas populations in planta to below the detection limit are 0.68 and 0.86 µg/g and that the minimum concentrations of OTC required for initial inhibition of CLas growth in planta are ∼0.17 and ∼0.215 µg/g in leaf tissues under greenhouse and field conditions, respectively. This finding highlights that a minimum concentration of OTC should be guaranteed to be delivered to target CLas in infected plants for effective control of citrus 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.
Pathogens from the fastidious, phloem-restricted ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ species cause the devastating Huanglongbing (HLB) disease in citrus worldwide and cause diseases on many solanaceous crops and plants in the Apiaceae family. However, little is known about the pathogenic mechanisms due to the difficulty in culturing the corresponding ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ species. Here, we report that the citrus HLB pathogen ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ uses an active salicylate hydroxylase SahA to degrade salicylic acid (SA) and suppress plant defenses. Purified SahA protein displays strong enzymatic activity to degrade SA and its derivatives. Overexpression of SahA in transgenic tobacco plants abolishes SA accumulation and hypersensitive response (HR) induced by nonhost pathogen infection. By degrading SA, ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ not only enhances the susceptibility of citrus plants to both nonpathogenic and pathogenic Xanthomonas citri but also attenuates the responses of citrus plants to exogenous SA. In addition, foliar spraying of 2,1,3-benzothiadiazole and 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid, SA functional analogs not degradable by SahA, displays comparable (and even better) effectiveness with SA in suppressing ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ population growth and HLB disease progression in infected citrus trees under field conditions. This study demonstrates one or more pathogens suppress plant defenses by degrading SA and establish clues for developing novel SA derivatives-based management approaches to control the associated plant diseases.