Potential soil transmission of a novel Candidatus Liberibacter strain detected in citrus seedlings grown in soil from a huanglongbing infested citrus grove

Nunes da Rocha et al. (2019).
Names (2)
Ca. Liberibacter africanus Liberibacter
SUMMARYCandidatus Liberibacter spp. are Alphaproteobacteria associated with plants and psyllid vectors. Most cause plant diseases, including Ca Liberibacter asiaticus (Las) associated with citrus huanglongbing (HLB). Replacing HLB-infected by Las-free citrus trees results in fast re-infection despite psyllid control. To check if HLB could be soil-borne, we performed an insect-free greenhouse-experiment with 130 mandarin seedlings in two citrus-grove soils (A and B), non-autoclaved or autoclaved. Liberibacter-specific 16S-rDNA PCR primers to detect Las were used to search for Ca. Liberibacter spp. in mandarin leaves. Seven plants grown in non-autoclaved soil B showed HLB-like symptoms and tested positive after 2.5 and 8.5 months using three different primer systems: two based on the 16S-rDNA gene (primers HLBas/HLBr and OI2c/OI1) and one based on the rplA/rplJ gene (primers LAA2/LAJ5). DNA segments from these plants amplified by primers OI2c/OI1 were cloned and sequenced; they were 95.9 % similar to Las and 94.8% to Ca. Liberibacter africanus (Laf). The DNA product from Liberibacter-group specific PCR primers for the rplA/rplJ gene was 87.6% similar to that of Las and 78.2% of Laf. As the strain obtained originated from soil and was different from existing Ca. Liberibacter species, this strain may be a new species.
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