Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most destructive diseases threatening citriculture worldwide. This disease has been associated with α-proteobacteria species, namely Candidatus Liberibacter. Due to the unculturable nature of the causal agent, it has been difficult to mitigate the disease, and nowadays a cure is not available. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulators of gene expression, playing an essential role in abiotic and biotic stress in plants including antibacterial responses. However, knowledge derived from non-model systems including Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas)-citrus pathosystem remains largely unknown. In this study, small RNA profiles from Mexican lime (Citrus aurantifolia) plants infected with CLas at asymptomatic and symptomatic stages were generated by sRNA-Seq, and miRNAs were obtained with ShortStack software. A total of 46 miRNAs, including 29 known miRNAs and 17 novel miRNAs, were identified in Mexican lime. Among them, six miRNAs were deregulated in the asymptomatic stage, highlighting the up regulation of two new miRNAs. Meanwhile, eight miRNAs were differentially expressed in the symptomatic stage of the disease. The target genes of miRNAs were related to protein modification, transcription factors, and enzyme-coding genes. Our results provide new insights into miRNA-mediated regulation in C. aurantifolia in response to CLas infection. This information will be useful to understand molecular mechanisms behind the defense and pathogenesis of HLB.
Nowadays, Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, associated with Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), seriously affects citriculture worldwide, and no cure is currently available. Transcriptomic analysis of host–pathogen interaction is the first step to understand the molecular landscape of a disease. Previous works have reported the transcriptome profiling in response to HLB in different susceptible citrus species; however, similar studies in tolerant citrus species, including Mexican lime, are limited. In this work, we have obtained an RNA-seq-based differential expression profile of Mexican lime plants challenged against CLas infection, at both asymptomatic and symptomatic stages. Typical HLB-responsive differentially expressed genes (DEGs) are involved in photosynthesis, secondary metabolism, and phytohormone homeostasis. Enrichment of DEGs associated with biotic response showed that genes related to cell wall, secondary metabolism, transcription factors, signaling, and redox reactions could play a role in the tolerance of Mexican lime against CLas infection. Interestingly, despite some concordance observed between transcriptional responses of different tolerant citrus species, a subset of DEGs appeared to be species-specific. Our data highlights the importance of studying the host response during HLB disease using as model tolerant citrus species, in order to design new and opportune diagnostic and management methods.