Alternative Tissue Sampling for Improved Detection of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus

Hajeri et al. (2023). Plants 12 (19)
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Ecology Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics Plant Science
Early detection and prompt response are key factors in the eradication of ‘huanglongbing’ (HLB) in California. Currently, qPCR testing of leaf tissue guides the removal of infected trees. However, because of the uneven distribution of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) in an infected tree and asymptomatic infection, selecting the best leaves to sample, from a mature tree with more than 200,000 estimated leaves, is a major hurdle for timely detection. The goal of this study was to address this issue by testing alternative tissues that might improve the CLas detection rate. Using two years of field data, old and young leaves, peduncle bark of fruit, and feeder roots were evaluated for the presence of CLas. Quadrant-peduncle (Q-P) tissue sampling consistently resulted in better CLas detection than any other tissue type. Q-P samples had a 30% higher qPCR positivity rate than quadrant-leaf (Q-L) samples. No significant seasonal patterns were observed. Roots and single peduncles had similar detection rates; both were higher than single leaves or Q-L samples. If symptoms were used to guide sampling, 30% of infected trees would have been missed. Taken together, these results suggest that Q-P tissue sampling is the optimal choice for improved CLas detection under California growing conditions.
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