The bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ is associated with zebra chip disease (ZC), a threat to potato production in North America and New Zealand. It is vectored by potato psyllids. Previous studies observed that ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infection causes potato tubers to undergo ZC-symptom-associated shifts in physiology, such as increased levels of amino acids, sugars, and phenolics. However, little is known about how ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infections caused by psyllid vector feeding may affect metabolism in potato foliage and stems. This study compared metabolism in potato plants fed upon by ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-positive psyllids with potato plants not exposed to psyllids. Foliar levels of asparagine, aspartic acid, glutamine, fructose, glucose, sucrose, a ferulic acid derivative, and quinic acid were lower in ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-inoculated than noninfected plants. However, foliar levels of proline, serine, four phenolic compounds, and most terpenoids were greater in ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-inoculated than noninfected plants. Upper stem levels of asparagine and aspartic acid, upper and lower stem levels of ellagitannins and most monoterpenoids, and lower stem level of sesquiterpenoids were greater in ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-inoculated than noninfected plants. These results suggest that many defense-related terpenoid compounds might increase in plants which had psyllids inoculate ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’. This could impact progression and spread of ZC.
Zebra chip disease (ZC), putatively caused by the fastidious bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’, is a threat to potato growers worldwide. However, little is known about biochemical shifts in different potato genotypes in response to ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infection. To address this, ‘Red La Soda’, ‘Russet Norkotah’, and ‘FL 1867’ potato were infected with ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ 4, 3, 2, and 1 weeks before harvest to observe variability in cultivar responses to ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ infection. ZC symptoms, ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ titers, and tuber biochemistry were assessed. Red La Soda tubers exhibited greater symptoms when infected for 4 weeks than Russet Norkotah or FL 1867 tubers. ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ titers did not vary among cultivars. Tuber levels of amino acids, carbohydrates, and phenolics varied among cultivars but no consistent trends were observed. Individual amino acids and phenolics were greater in FL 1867 than Red La Soda, whereas others were greater in Red La Soda or Russet Norkotah than FL 1867. Most amino acids, carbohydrates, and phenolics were positively associated with infection duration and symptoms regardless of cultivar. Associations between most of the evaluated compounds and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ titer were positive in Red La Soda. However, no associations between ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ quantity and compounds were observed in FL 1867 and Russet Norkotah.
Zebra chip disease, putatively caused by the bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’, is of increasing concern to potato production in Mexico, the United States, and New Zealand. However, little is known about the etiology of this disease and changes that occur within host tubers that result in its symptoms. Previous studies found that increased levels of phenolics, amino acids, defense proteins, and carbohydrates in ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-infected tubers are associated with symptoms of zebra chip. This study was conducted to quantify variations in levels of these biochemical components in relation to the time of infestation, symptom severity, and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ titer. Levels of phenolics, peroxidases, polyphenol oxidases, and reducing sugars (glucose and, to some extent, fructose) changed during infection, with higher levels occurring in tubers infected at least 5 weeks before harvest than in those infected only a week before harvest and those of controls. Compared with the apical tuber ends, greater levels of phenolics, peroxidases, and sucrose occurred at the basal (stolon attachment) end of infected tubers. With the exception of phenolics, concentrations of the evaluated compounds were not associated with ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ titer. However, there were significant associations between biochemical responses and symptom severity. The lack of a linear correlation between most plant biochemical responses and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ titer suggests that shifts in metabolic profiles are independent of variations in ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ levels.
With diseases caused by vector-borne plant pathogens, acquisition and inoculation are two primary stages of the transmission, which can determine vector efficiency in spreading the pathogen. The present study was initiated to quantify acquisition and inoculation successes of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’, the etiological agent of zebra chip disease of potato, by its psyllid vector, Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae). Acquisition success was evaluated in relation to feeding site on the host plant as well as the acquisition access period. Inoculation success was evaluated in relation to vector number (1 and 4) on the plants. Acquisition success was influenced by the feeding site on the plant. The highest acquisition success occurred when insects had access to the whole plant. The results of the inoculation study indicated that the rate of successfully inoculated plants increased with the vector number. Plants inoculated with multiple psyllids had higher bacterial titer at the point of inoculation. Although disease incubation period was significantly shorter in plants inoculated with multiple psyllids, this effect was heterogeneous across experimental blocks, and was independent of pathogen quantity detected in the leaflets 3 days postinoculation. Disease progress was not affected by bacterial quantity injected or psyllid numbers.
The specificity and sensitivity of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers developed for ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous’ were evaluated in conventional and real-time PCR assays. All PCR primers were specific for ‘Ca. L. psyllaurous’ and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ insomuch as they did not detect other prokaryotic plant pathogens that affect potato except for the putative pathogens associated with psyllid-yellows and haywire. Conventional PCR assays were capable of detecting 0.19 to 1.56 ng of total DNA per reaction, and real-time PCR was found capable of detecting 1.56 to 6.25 ng of total DNA per reaction, depending on the specific PCR primer set used. ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ species associated with zebra complex disease (ZC) was confirmed in plants affected by this disease throughout Texas from 2005 to 2008, in seed tubers produced in Wyoming in 2007, and in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Mexico in 2008. A multiplex PCR assay using ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’–specific primers and primers specific for the β-tubulin DNA regions from potato was developed, providing possible utility of the multiplex assay for ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ detection in different solanaceous plant species. Preliminary studies suggest silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), wolfberry (Lycium barbarum), black nightshade (S. ptychanthum), and jalapeno pepper (Capsicum annuum) as additional solanaceous hosts for the ZC-associated bacterium. The ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ species detected in all samples divided into two clusters sharing similarity of 99.8% in their partial 16S rRNA gene sequences and 99.3% in their partial intergenic spacer region (ISR)-23S rRNA gene sequences. Genetic variation in the 16S rDNA region consistently matched that of the ISR-23S rDNA region. In this partial 16S-ISR-23S rDNA region, there was a total of eight single nucleotide polymorphisms among ‘Ca. L. psyllaurous’ and ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ “strains” investigated in this study. ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and ‘Ca. L. psyllaurous’ were shown to be very closely related bacteria, if not the same, by successful amplification using a combination of forward primer of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and reverse primer of ‘Ca. L. psyllaurous’ in ZC-affected potato samples. This finding clarifies the current taxonomic status of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and ‘Ca. L. psyllaurous’. The detection of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ from haywire-symptomatic potato samples demonstrates that this bacterium might also be associated with this disease.