‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (CaLsol), the etiological agent of potato zebra chip (ZC), is transmitted to potato plants by the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Šulc, 1909) in North and Central America and New Zealand. The risk of the dispersion of ZC in Spain depends on the presence of an efficient vector. This work studies the presence and abundance of ZC symptoms and CaLsol in potato plants, as well as the presence and abundance of psyllid species associated with potato crops in the main producing areas in Spain. Eighty-eight plots were surveyed punctually to detect ZC symptoms and psyllid species in the main potato-producing areas. Furthermore, fourteen potato plots were surveyed by different sampling methods during the cropping season to detect psyllid species from 2016 to 2018. Very few symptomatic and CaLsol-positive plants were detected in Mainland Spain, and any positive plant was detected in the Canary Islands. Most of the adult psyllids captured were identified as Bactericera nigricornis (Foerster, 1848), and some of them as Bactericera trigonica, but no B. cockerelli was detected. B. nigricornis was found widely distributed in the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula; however, this psyllid does not seem sufficient to pose a threat to potato production, due to the scarce number of specimens and because the frequency of B. nigricornis specimens that were CaLsol+ was very low.
Autophagy, also known as type II programmed cell death, is a cellular mechanism of “self-eating”. Autophagy plays an important role against pathogen infection in numerous organisms. Recently, it has been demonstrated that autophagy can be activated and even manipulated by plant viruses to facilitate their transmission within insect vectors. However, little is known about the role of autophagy in the interactions of insect vectors with plant bacterial pathogens. ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) is a phloem-limited Gram-negative bacterium that infects crops worldwide. Two Lso haplotypes, LsoA and LsoB, are transmitted by the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli and cause damaging diseases in solanaceous plants (e.g., zebra chip in potatoes). Both LsoA and LsoB are transmitted by the potato psyllid in a persistent circulative manner: they colonize and replicate within psyllid tissues. Following acquisition, the gut is the first organ Lso encounters and could be a barrier for transmission. In this study, we annotated autophagy-related genes (ATGs) from the potato psyllid transcriptome and evaluated their expression in response to Lso infection at the gut interface. In total, 19 ATGs belonging to 17 different families were identified. The comprehensive expression profile analysis revealed that the majority of the ATGs were regulated in the psyllid gut following the exposure or infection to each Lso haplotype, LsoA and LsoB, suggesting a potential role of autophagy in response to Lso at the psyllid gut interface.
Melatonin is synthesized from the amino acid L-tryptophan via the shikimic acid pathway and ubiquitously distributed in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Although most of melatonin biosynthesis genes were characterized in several plants and animal species including the insect model, Drosophila melanogaster, none of these enzymes have been identified from the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri. We used comprehensive in silico analysis and gene expression techniques to identify the melatonin biosynthesis-related genes of D. citri and to evaluate the expression patterns of these genes within the adults of D. citri with gradient infection rates (0, 28, 34, 50, 58, and 70%) of the phytopathogenic bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus and after the treatment with exogenous melatonin. We showed that the D. citri genome possesses six putative melatonin biosynthesis-related genes including two putative tryptophan 5-hydroxylase (DcT5H-1 and DcT5H-2), a putative aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (DcAADC), two putative arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (DcAANAT-1 and DcAANAT-2), and putative N-acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase (DcASMT). The infection with Ca. L. asiaticus decreased the transcript levels of all predicted genes in the adults of D. citri. Moreover, melatonin supplementation induced their expression levels in both healthy and Ca. L. asiaticus-infected psyllids. These findings confirm the association of these genes with the melatonin biosynthesis pathway.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is a citrus disease of worldwide importance, associated with the presence of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las) and vectored by the psyllid Diaphorina citri in Asia and the Americas. To properly manage HLB, removal of inoculum sources and control of the psyllid are undertaken. We evaluated the percentage of the psyllid population with Las, sampled from yellow sticky traps over a three-year period and its relationship with insect population, regions, season of the year, and HLB management in citrus areas in the southwestern, central, and northern regions of São Paulo (SP) and southwestern region of Minas Gerais states, Brazil. In each reading, up to 50 psyllids per region were collected and detection of Las in individual psyllids were made by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The percentage of psyllids with Las—an average of 65.3%—was constant throughout the year in the southwestern region of SP state, while showing an increase from spring to autumn when sampled from central to northern regions. The proportion of psyllids carrying Las from each region and year period were compared by a proportion test and spectral density analysis. The proportion of psyllids carrying Las evaluated in the same region in different seasons presented statistical differences in central (Araraquara) and southwestern (Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo) regions in 2015, with higher values in the first semester (summer and autumn) than in the second semester (winter and spring). Orchards with poor HLB management had higher incidence of psyllids with Las. Spectral density analysis indicated that good management areas had 50% less relevant peaks of psyllids with Las than in areas with poor HLB management practices. The relationship between the percentage of psyllids carrying Las and the number of captured psyllids in the region in a given time denotes the most critical intake time for HLB spread in citrus orchards. The reduction in the population of psyllids carrying Las is a direct benefit from the use of good management practices.
Bacteria belonging to ‘Candidatus Liberibacter spp.’ are associated with various severe diseases in the five continents. The African citrus psyllid Trioza erytreae (Hemiptera: Triozidae) is an efficient vector of citrus huanglongbing-HLB disease, absent in the Mediterranean basin. This psyllid is currently present in the islands and mainland Portugal and Spain, where the prevalence of ‘Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum’ (CaLsol) associated to a carrot disease is high. Trioza erytreae normally feeds on citrus plants but has also been observed on other crops. It would be a great concern to the Mediterranean citrus industry if T. erytreae could transmit this bacterium from carrots to citrus and cause disease; therefore, the transmission of CaLsol from carrot plants to citrus plants was experimentally assessed. Although CaLsol was initially detected on receptor citrus plants in transmission assays by dodder and budding, the infection was not established. The feeding behavior by electrical penetration graphs and oviposition of T. erytreae on carrot plants versus citrus plants was evaluated. Trioza erytreae only reached the phloem in citrus plants. However, it was able to acquire CaLsol from infected carrots but unable to transmit it to citrus plants. CaLsol was detected in some carrot plants immediately after 7 and 14 days (inoculation access period), but it was not detected after one month. Trioza erytreae was unable to complete its life cycle on carrot plants. In conclusion, the efficient vector of bacteria associated to huanglongbing was unable to transmit CaLsol from carrot to citrus plants, but it acquired and transmitted the bacterium from carrot to carrot plants with low efficiency.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is a major causal agent of citrus Huanglongbing (HLB), which is transmitted by Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri, causing severe losses in various regions of the world. Vector efficiency is higher when acquisition occurs by ACP immature stages and over longer feeding periods. In this context, our goal was to evaluate the progression of CLas population and infection rate over four ACP generations that continuously developed on infected citrus plants. We showed that the frequency of CLas-positive adult samples increased from 42% in the parental generation to 100% in the fourth generation developing on CLas-infected citrus. The bacterial population in the vector also increased over generations. This information reinforces the importance of HLB management strategies, such as vector control and eradication of diseased citrus trees, to avoid the development of CLas-infected ACP generations with higher bacterial loads and, likely, a higher probability of spreading the pathogen in citrus orchards.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) is a phloem-limited bacterium that is associated with the Huanglongbing (HLB) disease of citrus and transmitted by the psyllid, Diaphorina citri. There are no curative methods to control HLB and the prevention of new infections is essential for HLB management. Therefore, the objective of our study was to determine the effects of systemic insecticides, such as the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and a mixture of thiamethoxam and chlorantraniliprole (diamide) on the probing behavior of CLas-infected D. citri and their effect on CLas transmission. The electrical penetration graph (EPG-DC) technique was used to monitor the stylet penetration activities of CLas-infected D. citri on sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] ‘Valencia’ treated with systemic insecticides. Systemic insecticides disrupted the probing behavior of CLas-infected D. citri, in a way that affected CLas transmission efficiency, particularly by negatively affecting the stylet activities related to the phloem phase. All insecticides reduced (by 57–73%) the proportion of psyllids that exhibited sustainable phloem ingestion (waveform E2 > 10 min), with significant differences observed on plants treated with thiamethoxam and thiamethoxam + chlorantraniliprole. The transmission rate of CLas with high inoculum pressure (five CLas-infected D. citri per plant and a seven-day inoculation access period) to untreated control plants was 93%. In contrast, CLas transmission was reduced to 38.8% when test plants were protected by systemic insecticides. Our results indicated that all insecticides tested presented a potential to reduce CLas inoculation by an average of 59%; therefore, these insecticides can be used to reduce the spread of HLB.
The tomato potato psyllid (TPP), Bactericera cockerelli, is a psyllid native to North America that has recently invaded New Zealand and Australia. The potential for economic losses accompanying invasions of TPP and its associated bacterial plant pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso), has caused much concern. Here, we employed ecological niche models to predict environments suitable for TPP/CLso on a global scale and then evaluated the extent to which global potato cultivation is at risk. In addition, at a finer scale the risk to the Australian potato acreage was evaluated. A total of 86 MaxEnt models were built using various combinations of settings and climatic predictors, and the best model based on model evaluation metrics was selected. Climatically suitable habitats were identified in Eurasia, Africa, South America, and Australasia. Intersecting the predicted suitability map with land use data showed that 79.06% of the global potato cultivation acreage, 96.14% of the potato production acreage in South America and Eurasia, and all the Australian potato cropping areas are at risk. The information generated by this study increases knowledge of the ecology of TPP/CLso and can be used by government agencies to make decisions about preventing the spread of TPP and CLso across the globe.
The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Liviidae), is an important transmission vector of the citrus greening disease Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). The D. citri midgut exhibits an important tissue barrier against CLas infection. However, the molecular mechanism of the midgut response to CLas infection has not been comprehensively elucidated. In this study, we identified 778 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the midgut upon CLas infection, by comparative transcriptome analyses, including 499 upregulated DEGs and 279 downregulated DEGs. Functional annotation analysis showed that these DEGs were associated with ubiquitination, the immune response, the ribosome, endocytosis, the cytoskeleton and insecticide resistance. KEGG enrichment analysis revealed that most of the DEGs were primarily involved in endocytosis and the ribosome. A total of fourteen DEG functions were further validated by reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). This study will contribute to our understanding of the molecular interaction between CLas and D. citri.
Potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli) is one of the most important pests in potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) due to its feeding behavior and the transmission of a bacterium (Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum) that causes zebra chip disease, altering the quality of the potato tuber and the fried potato chip or french fry. This pest is thus a threat to the chip potato industry and often requires preventive measures including the use of costly insecticides. The objectives of this research were to monitor the variation in B. cockerelli adult abundance and to evaluate the risk of zebra chip disease in northwestern New Mexico, USA. Yellow sticky traps were used to collect the pest at the Agricultural Experiment Station at Farmington, NM and in nearby commercial fields at the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) and Navajo Mesa Farms during the 2017–2019 period. The collected adult pests were analyzed at Texas A & M University for the presence of Candidatus L. solanacearum (Lso). The results showed field infestation by B. cockerelli in early June and that the population peaked during the second half of July and decreased as the potato growing season progressed. However, a second less important peak of the pest was revealed around mid- to late-August, depending on the growing season and field. While the B. cockerelli population increased linearly with average air temperature, it showed strong third order polynomial relationships with the accumulated thermal units and the Julian days. The test of B. cockerelli for the Lso infection revealed a low incidence of the pathogen varying from 0.22% to 6.25% and the infected adult B. cockerelli were collected during the population peak period. The results of this study may be helpful to potato growers in pest management decision-making and control. However, more study is needed to evaluate zebra chip disease in terms of its prevention and economic impact, and to develop economic thresholds and pest management programs for northwestern New Mexico and neighboring regions.