Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las) has been reported to increase the susceptibility of the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), to selected insecticides. Reduced general esterase activity in Las-infected, compared with uninfected, D. citri has been proposed as a possible explanation for this difference in insecticide susceptibility. The current study was conducted to quantify glutathione transferase (GST) and cytochrome P450 (general oxidase) activities in Las-infected D. citri to further explain the possible mechanisms for altered susceptibility to insecticides due to Las infection. GST and cytochrome P450 activities (indirectly through general oxidase levels) were quantified in Las-infected and uninfected D. citri nymphs and adults. Mean (±SEM) GST activity was significantly lower in Las-infected (468.23 ± 26.87 /µmol/min/mg protein) than uninfected (757.63 ± 59.46 µmol/min/mg protein) D. citri adults. Likewise, mean cytochrome P450 activity was significantly lower in Las-infected (0.23 ± 0.02 equivalent units [EU] cytochrome P450/mg protein) than uninfected (0.49 ± 0.05 EU cytochrome P450/mg protein) D. citri adults. Immature stages (second and fifth instars) were characterized by significantly lower GST activity than adults for uninfected D. citri. However, cytochrome P450 activity was significantly higher in second instar nymphs than adults and fifth-instar nymphs for uninfected D. citri. Lower activities of GST and general oxidase in Las-infected D. citri indicate that infection with Las alters D. citri physiology in a manner that could increase insecticide susceptibility. The reduced activities of these detoxifying enzymes due to Las infection may be explained by examining expression levels of associated genes in Las-infected and uninfected D. citri.
Citrus huanglongbing, putatively caused by the associated bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, is the greatest threat to the world citrus industry today. The bacterium is spread locally and regionally by the citrus psyllid Diaphorina citri, and also can be disseminated by propagation of contaminated scion budwood that is grafted to the appropriate rootstock. The planting of ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’-free trees is a component of a comprehensive strategy to manage huanglongbing. In contrast to the scion budwood, the rootstocks used to produce these trees are grown from seed. This research was undertaken to provide evidence as to whether or not ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ can be transmitted through seed. Two groups of 360 or more seedlings each of various citrus species were grown from seed removed from fruit on trees that were symptomatic for huanglongbing and confirmed to be infected with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. These seedlings were tested multiple times over periods of up to 3 years. No symptoms typical of huanglongbing, such as blotchy leaf mottle, chlorotic shoots, or dieback of branches, were observed in these seedlings, and none of these 723 seedlings tested positive for the presence of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ even after repeated testing by sensitive quantitative PCR assays. Some sour orange seedlings did have quite pronounced and atypical growth, including stunting and mild to severe leaf malformation. These atypical growth habits were limited to seedlings that arose from zygotic embryos as determined by expressed-sequence tag simple-sequence repeat analyses. Thus, no evidence of transmission of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ via seed was obtained, and an earlier report of transmission of the pathogen through seed was not confirmed.