Spatiotemporal Dynamics of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ Colonization Inside Citrus Plant and Huanglongbing Disease Development

Pandey et al. (2021). Phytopathology® 111 (6)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas), the causal agent of citrus huanglongbing (HLB), colonizes inside the phloem and is naturally transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). Here, we investigated spatiotemporal CLas colonization in different tissues after ACP transmission. Of the nine plants successfully infected via ACP transmission, CLas was detected in the roots of all trees at 75 days postremoval of ACPs (DPR) but in the mature leaf of only one tree; this finding is consistent with the model that CLas moves passively from source to sink tissues. At 75 and 365 DPR, CLas was detected in 11.1 and 43.1% of mature leaves not fed on by ACPs during transmission, respectively, unveiling active movement to the source tissue. The difference in colonization timing of sink and source tissues indicates that CLas is capable of both passive and active movement, with passive movement being dominant. At 225 DPR, leaves fed on by ACPs during the young stage showed the highest ratio of HLB symptomatic leaves and the highest CLas titer, followed by leaves that emerged after ACP removal and mature leaves not fed on by ACPs. Importantly, our data showed that ACPs were unable to transmit CLas via feeding on mature leaves. It is estimated that it takes 3 years at most for CLas to infect the whole tree. Overall, spatiotemporal detection of CLas in different tissues after ACP transmission helps visualize the infection process of CLas in planta and subsequent HLB symptom development and provides evidence showing that young leaves should be the focus of HLB management.
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