Foliar Antibiotic Treatment Reduces Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus Acquisition by the Asian Citrus Psyllid, Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Liviidae), but Does not Reduce Tree Infection Rate

Roldán et al. (2023). Journal of Economic Entomology 116 (1)
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Ecology General Medicine Insect Science
Abstract Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, is the most destructive disease of cultivated citrus worldwide. Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), the putative causal agent of HLB, is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Liviidae). In Florida, D. citri was first reported in 1998, and CLas was confirmed in 2005. Management of HLB relies on the use of insecticides to reduce vector populations. In 2016, antibiotics were approved to manage CLas infection in citrus. Diaphorina citri is host to several bacterial endosymbionts and reducing endosymbiont abundance is known to cause a corresponding reduction in host fitness. We hypothesized that applications of oxytetracycline and streptomycin would reduce: CLas populations in young and mature citrus trees, CLas acquisition by D. citri, and D. citri abundance. Our results indicate that treatment of citrus with oxytetracycline and streptomycin reduced acquisition of CLas by D. citri adults and emerging F1 nymphs as compared with that observed in trees treated only with insecticides, but not with antibiotics. However, under field conditions, neither antibiotic treatment frequency tested affected CLas infection of young or mature trees as compared with insecticide treatment alone (negative control); whereas trees enveloped with mesh screening that excluded vectors did prevent bacterial infection (positive control). Populations of D. citri were not consistently affected by antibiotic treatment under field conditions, as compared with an insecticide only comparison. Collectively, our results suggest that while foliar application of oxytetracycline and streptomycin to citrus reduces acquisition of CLas bacteria by the vector, even high frequency applications of these formulations under field conditions do not prevent or reduce tree infection.
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