Symbiotic relationships are ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans, yet for many marine organisms, including those in the high latitudes, little is understood about symbiotic associations and functional relationships. From a recently determined genome sequence of a filter-feeding basket star from Argentina, Gorgonocephalus chilensis, we discovered a novel Mycoplasma species with a 796Kb genome (CheckM completeness of 97.9%, G+C content = 30.1%). Similar to other Mycoplasma spp. within Mycoplasmatota, genomic analysis of the novel organism revealed reduced metabolic pathways including incomplete biosynthetic pathways, suggesting an obligate association with their basket star host. Results of 16S rRNA and multi-locus phylogenetic analyses revealed that this organism belonged to a recently characterized non-free-living lineage of Mycoplasma spp. specifically associated with marine invertebrate animals. Thus, the name “Candidatus Mycoplasma mahonii” is proposed for this novel species. Based on 16S rRNA PCR-screening, we found that Ca. M. mahonii also occurs in Gorgonocephalus eucnemis from the Northwest Pacific and other Gorgonocephalus chilensis from Argentinian waters. The level of sequence conservation within Ca. M. mahonii is considerable between widely disparate high-latitude Gorgonocephalus species, suggesting that oceanic dispersal of this microbe may be greater than excepted.
Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most destructive diseases of citrus plants caused by the obligate and phloem-limiting bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las). Reliable detection methods are important for successful control of the disease. This study was aimed to develop a rapid and user-friendly on-site detection system for Las using the TaqMan probe-based insulated isothermal polymerase chain reaction (iiPCR) assay. The Las-specific on-site detection system could be completed within one hour by simple DNA extraction coupled with a portable POCKIT device, which can perform PCR amplification and automatically provide qualitative results derived from fluorescence signals. The sensitivity of the TaqMan probe-iiPCR assay could be as low as single copy of Las, comparable to a real-time PCR method. Further testing of the field citrus samples showed 100% agreement between the TaqMan probe-iiPCR assay and the real-time PCR method, and the on-site detection system also demonstrated a great performance of Las detection. With high specificity and sensitivity, the on-site detection system developed in this study becomes a simple, rapid and powerful tool for detecting Las in fields.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) is a bacterial pathogen infecting several crops and causing damaging diseases. Several Lso haplotypes have been identified. Among the seven haplotypes present in North America, LsoA and LsoB are transmitted by the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli (Šulc), in a circulative and persistent manner. The gut, which is the first organ pathogen encounters, could be a barrier for Lso transmission. However, the molecular interactions between Lso and the psyllid vector at the gut interface remain largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the global transcriptional responses of the adult psyllid gut upon infection with two Lso haplotypes (LsoA and LsoB) using Illumina sequencing. The results showed that each haplotype triggers a unique transcriptional response, with most of the distinct genes elicited by the highly virulent LsoB. The differentially expressed genes were mainly associated with digestion and metabolism, stress response, immunity, detoxification as well as cell proliferation and epithelium renewal. Importantly, distinct immune pathways were triggered by LsoA and LsoB in the gut of the potato psyllid. The information in this study will provide an understanding of the molecular basis of the interactions between the potato psyllid gut and Lso, which may lead to the discovery of novel molecular targets for the control of these pathogens.
“Candidatus Berkiella cookevillensis” (strain CC99) and “Candidatus Berkiella aquae” (strain HT99), belonging to the Coxiellaceae family, are gram-negative bacteria isolated from amoebae in biofilms present in human-constructed water systems. Both bacteria are obligately intracellular, requiring host cells for growth and replication. The intracellular bacteria-containing vacuoles of both bacteria closely associate with or enter the nuclei of their host cells. In this study, we analyzed the genome sequences of CC99 and HT99 to better understand their biology and intracellular lifestyles. The CC99 genome has a size of 2.9Mb (37.9% GC) and contains 2,651 protein-encoding genes (PEGs) while the HT99 genome has a size of 3.6Mb (39.4% GC) and contains 3,238 PEGs. Both bacteria encode high proportions of hypothetical proteins (CC99: 46.5%; HT99: 51.3%). The central metabolic pathways of both bacteria appear largely intact. Genes for enzymes involved in the glycolytic pathway, the non-oxidative branch of the phosphate pathway, the tricarboxylic acid pathway, and the respiratory chain were present. Both bacteria, however, are missing genes for the synthesis of several amino acids, suggesting reliance on their host for amino acids and intermediates. Genes for type I and type IV (dot/icm) secretion systems as well as type IV pili were identified in both bacteria. Moreover, both bacteria contain genes encoding large numbers of putative effector proteins, including several with eukaryotic-like domains such as, ankyrin repeats, tetratricopeptide repeats, and leucine-rich repeats, characteristic of other intracellular bacteria.
’Candidatus Phytoplasma mali’, is a bacterial pathogen associated with the so-called apple proliferation disease in Malus × domestica. The pathogen manipulates its host with a set of effector proteins, among them SAP11CaPm, which shares similarity to SAP11AYWB from ’Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’. SAP11AYWB interacts and destabilizes the class II CIN transcription factors of Arabidopsis thaliana, namely AtTCP4 and AtTCP13 as well as the class II CYC/TB1 transcription factor AtTCP18, also known as BRANCHED1 being an important factor for shoot branching. It has been shown that SAP11CaPm interacts with the Malus × domestica orthologues of AtTCP4 (MdTCP25) and AtTCP13 (MdTCP24), but an interaction with MdTCP16, the orthologue of AtTCP18, has never been proven. The aim of this study was to investigate this potential interaction and close a knowledge gap regarding the function of SAP11CaPm. A Yeast two-hybrid test and Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation in planta revealed that SAP11CaPm interacts with MdTCP16. MdTCP16 is known to play a role in the control of the seasonal growth of perennial plants and an increase of MdTCP16 gene expression has been detected in apple leaves in autumn. In addition to this, MdTCP16 is highly expressed during phytoplasma infection. Binding of MdTCP16 by SAP11CaPm might lead to the induction of shoot proliferation and early bud break, both of which are characteristic symptoms of apple proliferation disease.
An outbreak of citrus greening or Huanglongbing disease bacteria occurs in many areas. We sampled and identified an ongoing ~year 2020 orange tree endemic in northern Thailand as Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. We thereby developed a plant greening disease (C. Liberibacter asiaticus) detection assay using simple alkaline heat DNA lysis and loop-mediated isothermal amplification coupled hydroxynaphthol blue (AL-LAMP-HNB), and evaluated the developed assay for its feasibility as point-of-care detection on 65 plant leaf samples with 100–1×104 copies of C. Liberibacter asiaticus or mocked injection compared with commercial DNA lysis kit and PCR-GE. Our assay is sensitive to 5–8.9 copies of omp (equaling 0.0056–0.01 fg) compatible with PCR-GE limit of detection. This ultra sensitive limit of detection could allow the disease detection before clinical apparent state of disease when C. Liberibacter asiaticus infection number is few, i.e. fewer than 100 copies of C. Liberibacter asiaticus. The assay is also specific with 6 degenerate primers targeting every strain of C. Liberibacter asiaticus omp from GenBank database, rapid (40 min total assay time), inexpensive (~2–3 USD/reaction), does not require sophisticated instrumentation, and has comparable assay accuracy (93.85–100% accuracy, 100% specificity, and 89.74–100% sensitivity) to bacterial DNA extraction by a commercial kit followed by PCR and gel electrophoresis (92.31% accuracy, 100% specificity, and 87.18% sensitivity) based on the real sample tests. Hence, the technique could be used in local or laboratory resource-restricted settings. The test result could be read by naked eyes through the color change from violet (negative) to sky blue (positive) for a C. Liberibacter asiaticus-infected specimen. Furthermore, this assay uses safe chemical reagents and, thus, is safe for the users.
The olive fruit fly, specialized to become monophagous during several life stages, remains the most important olive tree pest with high direct production losses, but also affecting the quality, composition, and inherent properties of the olives. Thought to have originated in Africa is nowadays present wherever olive groves are grown. The olive fruit fly evolved to harbor a vertically transmitted and obligate bacterial symbiont -Candidatus Erwinia dacicola- leading thus to a tight evolutionary history between olive tree, fruit fly and obligate, vertical transmitted symbiotic bacterium. Considering this linkage, the genetic diversity (at a 16S fragment) of this obligate symbiont was added in the understanding of the distribution pattern of the holobiont at nine locations throughout four countries in the Mediterranean Basin. This was complemented with mitochondrial (four mtDNA fragments) and nuclear (ten microsatellites) data of the host. We focused on the previously established Iberian cluster for the B. oleae structure and hypothesised that the Tunisian samples would fall into a differentiated cluster. From the host point of view, we were unable to confirm this hypothesis. Looking at the symbiont, however, two new 16S haplotypes were found exclusively in the populations from Tunisia. This finding is discussed in the frame of host-symbiont specificity and transmission mode. To understand olive fruit fly population diversity and dispersion, the dynamics of the symbiont also needs to be taken into consideration, as it enables the fly to, so efficiently and uniquely, exploit the olive fruit resource.
“Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” (CLas) and Spiroplasma citri are phloem-limited bacteria that infect citrus and are transmitted by insect vectors. S. citri causes citrus stubborn disease (CSD) and is vectored by the beet leafhopper in California. CLas is associated with the devastating citrus disease, Huanglongbing (HLB), and is vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. CLas is a regulatory pathogen spreading in citrus on residential properties in southern California and is an imminent threat to spread to commercial citrus plantings. CSD is endemic in California and has symptoms in citrus that can be easily confused with HLB. Therefore, the objective of this study was to develop a multiplex qPCR and duplex droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assay for simultaneous detection of CLas and S. citri to be used where both pathogens can co-exist. The multiplex qPCR assay was designed to detect multicopy genes of CLas—RNR (5 copies) and S. citri–SPV1 ORF1 (13 copies), respectively, and citrus cytochrome oxidase (COX) as internal positive control. Absolute quantitation of these pathogens was achieved by duplex ddPCR as a supplement for marginal qPCR results. Duplex ddPCR allowed higher sensitivity than qPCR for detection of CLas and S. citri. ddPCR showed higher tolerance to inhibitors and yielded highly reproducible results. The multiplex qPCR assay has the benefit of testing both pathogens at reduced cost and can serve to augment the official regulatory protocol for CLas detection in California. Moreover, the ddPCR provided unambiguous absolute detection of CLas and S. citri at very low concentrations without any standards for pathogen titer.
Aster Yellows phytoplasma (AYp; ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’) is an obligate bacterial pathogen that is the causative agent of multiple diseases in herbaceous plants. While this phytoplasma has been examined in depth for its disease characteristics, knowledge about the spatial and temporal dynamics of pathogen spread is lacking. The phytoplasma is found in plant’s phloem and is vectored by leafhoppers (Cicadellidae: Hemiptera), including the aster leafhopper, Macrosteles quadrilineatus Forbes. The aster leafhopper is a migratory insect pest that overwinters in the southern United States, and historical data suggest these insects migrate from southern overwintering locations to northern latitudes annually, transmitting and driving phytoplasma infection rates as they migrate. A more in-depth understanding of the spatial, temporal and genetic determinants of Aster Yellows disease progress will lead to better integrated pest management strategies for Aster Yellows disease control. Carrot, Daucus carota L., plots were established at two planting densities in central Wisconsin and monitored during the 2018 growing season for Aster Yellows disease progression. Symptomatic carrots were sampled and assayed for the presence of the Aster Yellows phytoplasma. Aster Yellows disease progression was determined to be significantly associated with calendar date, crop density, location within the field, and phytoplasma subgroup.