Inoculation Period and Citrus Host Effect Establishment of New Infections of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ Transmitted via Vegetative Grafting

Hilf, Luo (2020). Plant Disease 104 (7)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
Vegetative grafting is a common method of transmitting and propagating ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, the bacterial species accepted as the causal agent of the citrus disease huanglongbing (HLB). Generally, infected tissue that is grafted to a receptor tree remains in place indefinitely to ensure transmission. In this study, individual HLB-symptomatic leaves were grafted as ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ inoculum sources to receptor trees of six citrus types and removed after an inoculation period (IP) of 21, 51, or 81 days. The goal was to assess the effect of varying IPs on transmission of bacteria to the receptor tree and on the successful establishment of a new infection. Survival analysis of data from three trials showed a significantly reduced proportion of infected trees with an IP of 21 days compared with IPs of 51 and 81 days but that there was no significant difference in the proportion of infected trees between IPs of 51 and 81 days. In addition, the time to first detection of pathogen DNA in an infected tree was delayed significantly for the 21-day IP when compared with the 51- and 81-day IPs. Survival analysis showed that the probability of infection of sweet orange trees was significantly higher than for trees of five other citrus types throughout the experiment. There was no significant difference between the infection probabilities of these latter five citrus types. The data from this study show that successful infection by grafting is dependent upon the time of exposure to the inoculum, that shorter IPs increase the time needed to establish a systemic infection, and that citrus types vary in their overall susceptibility to infection by ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’.
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