IntroductionHuanglonbing (HLB) is the most serious disease of citrus in the world, associated with three non-cultivable phloem-restricted bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), Ca L. africanus (CLaf) and Ca L. americanus (CLam). CLas is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid Diaphorina citri, and has spread to several countries. The African psyllid Trioza erytreae, the vector of CLaf occurs in Africa and neighbouring islands. Only two major citrus-growing regions - Australia/New Zealand and the Mediterranean Basin - are still HLB-free in the world. However, T. erytreae has recently been introduced into continental Europe (Portugal and Spain) and has become a potential threat to citrus production. The transmission of CLas by T. erytreae had been postulated but never tested. To evaluate the risk of T. erytreae transmitting CLas, comparative transmissions of CLas by T. erytreae and D. citri were assessed.MethodsTransmission tests were performed on excised leaves and seedlings of Citrus volkameriana with different inoculation access periods (in series) for both insect species. Quantifications of bacterial titers were made in excised leaves, seedlings three and six months after inoculation and on individual insects.ResultsOur results showed that T. erytreae was able to efficiently acquire CLas. Furthermore, T. erytreae carried significantly higher bacterial titers than D. citri, and was able to efficiently transmit the bacteria to seedlings at a similar rate that D. citri highlighting the high risk of spread of the most aggressive variant of HLB (CLas) by T. erytreae in Europe.DiscussionThus, extreme precautions to prevent any entry of CLas into Europe should be adopted.
Bacteria belonging to ‘Candidatus Liberibacter spp.’ are associated with various severe diseases in the five continents. The African citrus psyllid Trioza erytreae (Hemiptera: Triozidae) is an efficient vector of citrus huanglongbing-HLB disease, absent in the Mediterranean basin. This psyllid is currently present in the islands and mainland Portugal and Spain, where the prevalence of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ (CaLsol) associated to a carrot disease is high. Trioza erytreae normally feeds on citrus plants but has also been observed on other crops. It would be a great concern to the Mediterranean citrus industry if T. erytreae could transmit this bacterium from carrots to citrus and cause disease; therefore, the transmission of CaLsol from carrot plants to citrus plants was experimentally assessed. Although CaLsol was initially detected on receptor citrus plants in transmission assays by dodder and budding, the infection was not established. The feeding behavior by electrical penetration graphs and oviposition of T. erytreae on carrot plants versus citrus plants was evaluated. Trioza erytreae only reached the phloem in citrus plants. However, it was able to acquire CaLsol from infected carrots but unable to transmit it to citrus plants. CaLsol was detected in some carrot plants immediately after 7 and 14 days (inoculation access period), but it was not detected after one month. Trioza erytreae was unable to complete its life cycle on carrot plants. In conclusion, the efficient vector of bacteria associated to huanglongbing was unable to transmit CaLsol from carrot to citrus plants, but it acquired and transmitted the bacterium from carrot to carrot plants with low efficiency.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) is a phloem-limited bacterium that is associated with the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease of citrus and transmitted by the psyllid, Diaphorina citri. There are no curative methods to control HLB and the prevention of new infections is essential for HLB management. Therefore, the objective of our study was to determine the effects of systemic insecticides, such as the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and a mixture of thiamethoxam and chlorantraniliprole (diamide) on the probing behavior of CLas-infected D. citri and their effect on CLas transmission. The electrical penetration graph (EPG-DC) technique was used to monitor the stylet penetration activities of CLas-infected D. citri on sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] ‘Valencia’ treated with systemic insecticides. Systemic insecticides disrupted the probing behavior of CLas-infected D. citri, in a way that affected CLas transmission efficiency, particularly by negatively affecting the stylet activities related to the phloem phase. All insecticides reduced (by 57–73%) the proportion of psyllids that exhibited sustainable phloem ingestion (waveform E2 > 10 min), with significant differences observed on plants treated with thiamethoxam and thiamethoxam + chlorantraniliprole. The transmission rate of CLas with high inoculum pressure (five CLas-infected D. citri per plant and a seven-day inoculation access period) to untreated control plants was 93%. In contrast, CLas transmission was reduced to 38.8% when test plants were protected by systemic insecticides. Our results indicated that all insecticides tested presented a potential to reduce CLas inoculation by an average of 59%; therefore, these insecticides can be used to reduce the spread of HLB.
The bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ is a recent plant pathogen of several crops in Solanaceae and Apiaceae and is associated with economically important diseases. The bacterium is a carrot seed borne pathogen that can also be transmitted from potato mother tubers and by psyllid vectors. The psyllid Bactericera trigonica Hodkinson was described carrying CaLso associated with vegetative disorders in carrot and celery crops in Spain and its competence to transmit this phloem-limited bacterium among vegetables is currently being investigated. Here electrical penetration graphs showed that B. trigonica fed in the phloem of carrot and celery and probed the phloem in potato, but not in tomato plants. The bacterium was efficiently transmitted to carrot and celery plants when either single B. trigonica or groups of ten fed on these species. An inoculation access period of 24 hours was sufficient for a single B. trigonica to transmit the bacterium to carrot (67.8%), celery (21.1%) and eventually to potato and tomato (6.0%). Higher transmission rates were obtained with 10 individuals on celery (100%), carrot (80%), potato (10%) and tomato (10%). Bactericera trigonica laid eggs, and the hatched nymphs develop into adult on carrot and celery, but not on potato and tomato. CaLso was detected in 20% of the eggs laid by females carrying the bacterium. The results confirmed that B. trigonica is a vector of the bacterium to carrot and celery, and it is discussed the potential role of this psyllid in the transmission of the pathogen to potato and tomato plants.