Huanglongbing (HLB) is a highly destructive citrus disease which threatens citrus production worldwide and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las), a non-culturable phloem-limited bacterium, is an associated causal agent of the disease. To better understand the physiological and molecular processes involved in host responses to Las, 2-DE and mass spectrometry analyses, as well as ICP spectroscopy analysis were employed to elucidate the global protein expression profiles and nutrient concentrations in leaves of Las-infected grapefruit plants at pre-symptomatic or symptomatic stages for HLB.
This study identified 123 protein spots out of 191 spots that showed significant changes in the leaves of grapefruit plants in response to Las infection and all identified spots matched to 69 unique proteins/peptides. A down-regulation of 56 proteins including those associated with photosynthesis, protein synthesis, and metabolism was correlated with significant reductions in the concentrations of Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn, Mn, and Cu in leaves of grapefruit plants in response to Las infection, particularly in symptomatic plants. Oxygen-evolving enhancer (OEE) proteins, a PSI 9 kDa protein, and a Btf3-like protein were among a small group of proteins that were down-regulated in both pre-symptomatic and symptomatic plants in response to Las infection. Furthermore, a Las-mediated up-regulation of 13 grapefruit proteins was detected, which included Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase, chitinases, lectin-related proteins, miraculin-like proteins, peroxiredoxins and a CAP 160 protein. Interestingly, a Las-mediated up-regulation of granule-bound starch synthase was correlated with an increase in the K concentrations of pre-symptomatic and symptomatic plants.
This study constitutes the first attempt to characterize the interrelationships between protein expression and nutritional status of Las-infected pre-symptomatic or symptomatic grapefruit plants and sheds light on the physiological and molecular mechanisms associated with HLB disease development.