Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB), caused by “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” (CLas), is the most destructive disease threatening global citrus industry. Most commercial cultivars were susceptible to HLB, although some showed tolerant to HLB phenotypically. Identifying tolerant citrus genotypes and understanding the mechanism correlated with tolerance to HLB is essential for breeding citrus variety tolerance/resistance to HLB. In this study, the graft assay with CLas-infected bud were performed in four citrus genotypes, including Citrus reticulata Blanco, C. sinensis, C. limon, and C. maxima. HLB tolerance was observed in C. limon and C. maxima, while C. Blanco and C. sinensis were susceptible to HLB. The time-course transcriptomic analysis revealed a significant variation in differentially expressed genes (DEGs) related to HLB between susceptible and tolerant cultivar group at early and late infection stage. Functional analysis of DEGs indicated that the activation of genes involved in SA-mediated defense response, PTI, cell wall associated immunity, endochitinase, phenylpropanoid and alpha-linolenic/linoleic lipid metabolism played an important in the tolerance of C. limon and C. maxima to HLB at early infection stage. In addition, the overactive plant defense combined with the stronger antibacterial activity (antibacterial secondary and lipid metabolism) and the suppression of pectinesterase were contributed to the long-term tolerance to HLB in C. limon and C. maxima at late infection stage. Particularly, the activation of ROS scavenging genes (catalases and ascorbate peroxidases) could help to reduce HLB symptoms in tolerant cultivars. In contrast, the overexpression of genes involved in oxidative burst and ethylene metabolism, as well as the late inducing of defense related genes could lead to the early HLB symptom development in susceptible cultivars at early infection stage. The weak defense response and antibacterial secondary metabolism, and the induce of pectinesterase were responsible for sensitivity to HLB in C. reticulata Blanco and C. sinensis at late infection stage. This study provided new insights into the tolerance/sensitivity mechanism against HLB and valuable guidance for breeding of HLB-tolerant/resistant cultivars.
Huanglongbing (HLB) has turned into a devastating botanical pandemic of citrus crops, caused by Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). However, until now the disease has remained incurable with very limited control strategies available. Restoration of the affected microbiomes in the diseased host through the introduction of an indigenous endophyte Bacillus subtilis L1-21 isolated from healthy citrus may provide an innovative approach for disease management. A novel half-leaf method was developed in vitro to test the efficacy of the endophyte L1-21 against CLas. Application of B. subtilis L1-21 at 104 colony forming unit (cfu ml−1) resulted in a 1,000-fold reduction in the CLas copies per gram of leaf midrib (107 to 104) in 4 days. In HLB-affected citrus orchards over a period of 2 years, the CLas incidence was reduced to &lt; 3%, and CLas copies declined from 109 to 104 g−1 of diseased leaf midribs in the endophyte L1-21 treated trees. Reduction in disease incidence may corroborate a direct or an indirect biocontrol effect of the endophytes as red fluorescent protein-labeled B. subtilis L1-21 colonized and shared niche (phloem) with CLas. This is the first large-scale study for establishing a sustainable HLB control strategy through citrus endophytic microbiome restructuring using an indigenous endophyte.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus,’ an uncultured α-proteobacterium, is associated with citrus huanglongbing (HLB, yellow shoot disease), a destructive disease threatening citrus production worldwide. Here, we reported the draft genome sequence of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ strain Myan16 from an HLB-affected lime tree in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar. The strain Myan16 genome is 1,229,102 bp with an average G+C content of 36.4%, along with a circular prophage: P-Myan16-2 (36,303 bp, type 2). This is the first genome sequence of a ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ strain from Myanmar, which will enrich the current ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ genome sequence database and facilitate HLB epidemiology research in Asia and world.