A disease that severely affects processing potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.), termed zebra chip (ZC), has been identified in several locations in the United States (Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada), Mexico, and Central America (4). The disease name comes from the rapid oxidative darkening of freshly cut tubers and the dark stripes and blotches that occur in chips processed from infected tubers. Recently, the disorder has been associated with a new ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ species in New Zealand (3). Also, a bacterium designated ‘Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous’ has been identified recently in potato plants with “psyllid yellows” symptoms that resemble foliar symptoms of ZC (2). In the fall of 2008, 10 tubers were received at the Prosser laboratory from a commercial potato grower and five had symptoms characteristic of ZC. The tubers, cv. Dakota Pearl, were grown near Lancaster in southern California. The tubers showed rapid oxidation upon slicing and the sunken stolon attachment characteristic of ZC (4). Nucleic acid was extracted from symptomatic tubers (1) and tested by PCR for ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ species with primer pairs OA2/OI2c (5′-GCGCTTATTTTTAATAGGAGCGGCA-3′ and 5′-GCCTCGCGACTTCGCAACCCAT-3′) and CL514F/R (5′-CTCTAAGATTTCGGTTGGTT-3′ and 5′-TATATCTATCGTTGCACCAG-3′), which amplify from the 16S rDNA and rplJ and rplL ribosomal protein genes, respectively (3). Four of the five tubers with distinct ZC symptoms yielded the expected amplicons with both primer pairs. Two tubers with mild internal discoloration yielded correctly sized amplicons but in lesser amounts than from the severely affected tubers. Nucleic acid from healthy potato tubers yielded no product with these primers. One clone of the 1,168-bp OA2/OI2c amplicon and two clones of the 669-bp CL514F/R amplicon from a strongly positive sample were sequenced in both directions (ACGT, Inc., Wheeling, IL). BLAST alignments of the consensus sequences of the OA2/OI2c and CL514F/R amplicons (GenBank Accessions Nos. FJ498802 and FJ498803, respectively) revealed 100% identity with analogous ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ sequences reported from ZC-symptomatic potatoes in New Zealand (GenBank Accession Nos. EU849020 and EU919514). The OA2/OI2c amplicon was also identical to a sequence of ‘Ca. Liberibacter psyllaurous’ (GenBank Accession No. EU812559) from psyllid yellows-affected potatoes in the United States (2) and also showed a 99% identity with sequences from a ‘Ca. Liberibacter’ species reported in ZC tubers from Kansas (GenBank Accession No. EU921626). Potato crops with symptoms of ZC have been observed previously in California (4), but this is the first identification of ‘Ca. Liberibacter psyllaurous’ from diseased potatoes grown in California. Since ZC was first reported in the mid- to late-1990s, information from potato growers and processors suggests that ZC is becoming more important. The disease has caused millions of dollars in losses, particularly in south Texas (4). The identification of ‘Ca. Liberibacter psyllaurous’ in California provides additional evidence that the disease is increasing in importance in other potato-growing regions. References: (1) J. M. Crosslin et al. Plant Dis. 90:663, 2006. (2) A. K. Hansen et al. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74:5862, 2008. (3) L. W. Liefting et al. Plant Dis. 92:1474, 2008. (4) J. E. Munyaneza et al. Subtrop. Plant Sci. 59:30, 2007.
A new disease of glasshouse-grown tomato and pepper in New Zealand has resulted in plant decline and yield loss. Affected plants are characterized by spiky, chlorotic apical growth, curling or cupping of the leaves, and overall stunting. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of phloem-limited bacterium-like organisms in symptomatic plants. The strategy used to identify the bacterium involved using specific prokaryote polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers in combination with universal 16S rRNA primers. Sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene, the 16S/23S rRNA spacer region, and the rplKAJL-rpoBC operon revealed that the bacterium shared high identity with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ species. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the bacterium is distinct from the three citrus liberibacter species previously described and has been named ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’. This is the first report of a liberibacter naturally infecting a host outside the Rutaceae family. A specific PCR primer pair was developed for its detection.
In Brazil ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ and ‘Ca. L. americanus’ cause huanglongbing (also known as greening), the most destructive citrus disease. A shift in pathogen prevalence was observed over time, with a disproportional increase in ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ occurrence. Graft transmission experiments were used for a comparative study of both species using budsticks from symptomatic branches of field-affected trees as inoculum. The plants were inoculated with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ or ‘Ca. L. americanus’ alone, or simultaneously with both species. Symptom manifestation and conventional and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction were used for plant evaluations. ‘Ca. L. americanus’ was detected mainly in symptomatic plants and ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ was detected in symptomatic plants as well as in infected plants prior to symptom manifestation. Transmission percentages varied from 54.7 to 88.0% for ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ and 10.0 to 45.2% for ‘Ca. L. americanus’ in two experiments. In co-inoculated plants, 12.9% contained ‘Ca. L. americanus’ only, 40.3% contained ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ only, and 19.3% contained both species. Average bacterial titers for ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ and ‘Ca. L. americanus’, in log cells per gram of leaf midrib, were 6.42 and 4.87 for the experimental plants and 6.67 and 5.74 for the field trees used as the source of inoculum. The higher bacterial populations of the ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’-infected plants provided an explanation for the disproportional increase in field prevalence of this species over time, based on the greater likelihood for pathogen transmission by the insect vector.
Citrus huanglongbing (HLB) or yellow shoot disease (i.e., greening disease) is highly destructive to citrus production worldwide. Understanding the etiology of HLB is critical for managing the disease. HLB is currently associated with infection by ‘Candidatus Liberibacter spp.’ around the world, including China. However, Koch's postulates have not been fulfilled. In addition, other plant pathogens also may be involved in HLB. In a survey performed in Guangdong Province, P. R. China in 2006 and 2007, 141 citrus samples showing typical symptoms of HLB from 11 different cities were collected. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using phytoplasma-specific primer sets fU5/rU3 nested with primer set P1/P7 identified 110 (78.0%) positive samples. A 1,785-bp amplicon was obtained with primer set P1/P7. Analysis showed a 100% identity of this sequence in the region of 16S rDNA and 16S-23S rRNA intergenic transcribed spacer to three strains of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’ (onion yellows [Japan], aster yellows ‘watercress’ [Hawaii], and valeriana yellows [Lithuania]). Of the 141 samples, 89 (63.1%) samples were positive for ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’. When mixed infection was considered, 69 (48.9%) samples were positive for both ‘Ca. P. asteris’ and ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed low titers of both walled and wall-less bodies in the phloem sieve tubes of HLB citrus. When transmission from symptomatic citrus to periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) via dodder (Cuscuta campestris) was conducted, both phytoplasma and ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ were detected from the affected periwinkle. In addition to yellowing/mottling, the infected periwinkle showed symptoms of virescence and phyllody which are commonly associated with phytoplasmal diseases. TEM analysis of affected periwinkle revealed pleomorphic and wall-less organisms, characteristic of phytoplasmas, filling some phloem sieve tubes. In contrast, walled bacteria were at low titer. This study showed that in addition to ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’, a phytoplasma related to ‘Ca. P. asteris’ could also be detected in citrus showing HLB symptoms in Guangdong.
In São Paulo State, Brazil, ‘Candidatus Liberibacter americanus’ and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ are associated with huanglongbing (HLB). Affected municipalities occur mainly in the central and southern regions, where the annual number of hours above 30°C is two to five times lower than that in the extreme northern and western regions. The influence of temperature on sweet orange trees infected with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ or ‘Ca. L. americanus’ was studied in temperature-controlled growth chambers. Symptom progression on new shoots of naturally infected and experimentally graft-inoculated symptomatic sweet orange trees was assessed. Mottled leaves developed on all infected trees at 22 to 24°C, but not on any ‘Ca. L. americanus’–infected trees at 27 to 32°C. Quantitative, real time-PCR was used to determine the liberibacter titers in the trees. After 90 days, ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’–infected trees had high titers at 32 and 35°C, but not at 38°C, while ‘Ca. L. americanus’–infected trees had high titers at 24°C, but at 32°C the titers were very low or the liberibacters could not be detected. Thus, the multiplication of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ is not yet affected at 35°C, while a temperature of 32°C is detrimental to ‘Ca. L. americanus’. Thus, ‘Ca. L. americanus’ is less heat tolerant than ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’. The uneven distribution of these two liberibacters in São Paulo State might be in relation with these results.