Physiological Variables Influenced by ‘<i>Candidatus</i> Liberibacter asiaticus’ Infection in Two Citrus Species

Wu et al. (2023). Plant Disease
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ is the bacterium associated with the citrus disease known as huanglongbing (HLB). This study evaluated the influence of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection on a number of key plant physiological variables concerning photosynthesis, cell integrity, reactive oxygen species scavengers’ activity, and osmoregulation of two different species of citrus—the pomelo Citrus maxima and the mandarin C. reticulata ‘Tankan’—relative to their measured ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection load. Results indicated that all measured physiological variables except soluble sugar were affected by increased ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection titers, wherein the variety C. maxima proved overall more resistant than C. reticulata. ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection was linked in both plants to decrease in chlorophyll concentration, cell membrane permeability, and malondialdehyde, as well as increased free proline and starch contents. Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements taken 9 months after grafting the mandarin C. reticulata with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ scions revealed a significant decrease in the photosynthesis variables maximum photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II (PSII), effective photochemical quantum yield of PSII, and coefficient of photochemical fluorescence quenching assuming interconnected PSII antennae, whereas nonphotochemical fluorescence quenching increased significantly; C. maxima plants, on the other hand, did not show significant differences until the 12th month from infection exposure. The variables superoxide dismutase, catalase, peroxidase, and soluble protein initially increased and later decreased. In addition, progression of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ replication in both citrus species was accompanied by rapid changes in three reactive oxygen species scavenging enzymes in C. maxima, while the pattern was different in C. reticulata. We hypothesize that the observed interspecific differences in physiological change are related to their relative resistance against ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection. These results provide a scaffold for better describing the pathogenesis, selecting the most resistant breeds, or even validating pertaining omics research; ultimately, these detailed observations can facilitate the diagnosis of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ infection.
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