Canopy health, but not Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus Ct values, are correlated with fruit yield in Huanglongbing affected sweet orange trees

Levy et al. [posted content, 2021]
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
AbstractIn Florida, almost all citrus trees are infected with Huanglongbing (HLB), caused by the gram-negative, intracellular phloem limited bacteria Candidatus liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). Distinguishing between the severely and mildly sick trees is important for managing the groves and testing new HLB therapies. A mildly sick tree is one that produces higher fruit yield, compared to a severely sick tree, but measuring yields is laborious and time consuming. Here we characterized HLB affected sweet orange trees in the field in order to identify the specific traits that are correlated with the yields. We found that canopy volume, fruit detachment force (FDF) and the percentage of photosynthetically active radiation interception in the canopy (%INT) were positively correlated with fruit yields. Specifically, %INT measurements accurately distinguished between mild and severe trees in independent field trials. We could not find a difference in the Ct value between high and low producing HLB trees. Moreover, Ct values did not always agree with the number of CLas in the phloem that were visualized by transmission electron microscopy. Overall, our work identified an efficient way to distinguish between severe and mild HLB trees in Florida by measuring %INT and suggests that health of the canopy is more important for yields than the Ct value.
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