AbstractIn this study, newly identified small molecules were examined for efficacy against ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ in commercial groves of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and white grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) trees. We used benzbromarone and/or tolfenamic acid delivered by trunk injection. We evaluated safety and efficacy parameters by performing RNAseq of the citrus host responses, 16S rRNA gene sequencing to characterize citrus-associated microbial communities during treatment, and qRT-PCR as an indirect determination of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ viability. Analyses of the C. sinensis transcriptome indicated that each treatment consistently induced genes associated with normal metabolism and growth, without compromising tree viability or negatively affecting the indigenous citrus-associated microbiota. It was found that treatment-associated reduction in ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ was positively correlated with the proliferation of several core taxa related with citrus health. No symptoms of phytotoxicity were observed in any of the treated trees. Trials were also performed in commercial groves to examine the effect of each treatment on fruit productivity, juice quality and efficacy against ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’. Increased fruit production (15%) was observed in C. paradisi following twelve months of treatment with benzbromarone and tolfenamic acid. These results were positively correlated with decreased ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ transcriptional activity in root samples.
AbstractInferring the dispersal processes of vector-borne plant pathogens is a great challenge because the plausible epidemiological scenarios often involve complex spread patterns at multiple scales. The spatial genetic structure of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma prunorum’, responsible for European stone fruit yellows disease, was investigated by the application of a combination of statistical approaches to genotype data of the pathogen sampled from cultivated and wild compartments in three French Prunus-growing regions. This work revealed that the prevalence of the different genotypes is highly uneven both between regions and compartments. In addition, we identified a significant clustering of similar genotypes within a radius of 50 km or less, but not between nearby wild and cultivated Prunus. We also provide evidence that infected plants are transferred between production areas, and that both species of the Cacopsylla pruni complex can spread the pathogen. Altogether, this work supports a main epidemiological scenario where ‘Ca. P. prunorum’ is endemic in — and generally acquired from — wild Prunus by its immature psyllid vectors. The latter then migrate to shelter plants that epidemiologically connect sites less than 50 km apart by later providing infectious mature psyllids to their “migration basins”. Such multi-scale studies could be useful for other pathosystems.
AbstractHuanglongbing (HLB) is a serious disease of Citrus sp. worldwide. In Africa and the Mascarene Islands, a similar disease is known as African citrus greening (ACG) and is associated with the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter africanus (Laf). In recent years, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las) associated with the severe HLB has been reported in Ethiopia. Thus, we aimed to identify the Liberibacter species affecting citrus, the associated vectors in Eastern Africa and their ecological distribution. We assessed the presence of generic Liberibacter in symptomatic leaf samples by quantitative PCR. Subsequently, we sequenced the 50 S ribosomal protein L10 (rplJ) gene region in samples positive for Liberibacters and identified the species by comparison with public sequence data using phylogenetic reconstruction and genetic distances. We detected generic Liberibacter in 26%, 21% and 66% of plants tested from Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya, respectively. The rplJ sequences revealed the most prevalent Liberibacters in Uganda and Ethiopia were LafCl (22%) and Las (17%), respectively. We detected Las in Kenya for the first time from three sites in the coastal region. Finally, we modelled the potential habitat suitability of Las in Eastern Africa using MaxEnt. The projection showed large areas of suitability for the pathogen in the three countries surveyed. Moreover, the potential distribution in Eastern Africa covered important citrus-producing parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and included regions where the disease has not been reported. These findings will guide in the development of an integrated pest management strategy to ACG/HLB management in Africa.
AbstractRickettsiales bacteria in arthropods play a significant role in both public health and arthropod ecology. However, the extensive genetic diversity of Rickettsiales endosymbionts of arthropods is still to be discovered. In 2016, 515 arthropods belonging to 9 species of four classes (Insecta, Chilopoda, Diplopoda and Arachnida) were collected in Serbia. The presence and genetic diversity of Rickettsiales bacteria were evaluated by characterizing the 16S rRNA (rrs), citrate synthase (gltA) and heat shock protein (groEL) genes. The presence of various Rickettsiales bacteria was identified in the majority of tested arthropod species. The results revealed co-circulation of five recognized Rickettsiales species including Rickettsia, Ehrlichia and Wolbachia, as well as four tentative novel species, including one tentative novel genus named Neowolbachia. These results suggest the remarkable genetic diversity of Rickettsiales bacteria in certain arthropod species in this region. Furthermore, the high prevalence of spotted fever group Rickettsia in Ixodes ricinus ticks highlights the potential public health risk of human Rickettsia infection.
AbstractHuanglongbing (HLB) is a worldwide deadly citrus disease caused by the phloem-limited bacteria ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) vectored by Asian citrus psyllids. In order to effectively manage this disease, it is crucial to understand the relationship among the bacterial isolates from different geographical locations. Whole genome sequencing approaches will provide more precise molecular characterization of the diversity among populations. Due to the lack of in vitro culture, obtaining the whole genome sequence of CLas is still a challenge, especially for medium to low titer samples. Hundreds of millions of sequencing reads are needed to get good coverage of CLas from an HLB positive citrus sample. In order to overcome this limitation, we present here a new method, Agilent SureSelect XT HS target enrichment, which can specifically enrich CLas from a metagenomic sample while greatly reducing cost and increasing whole genome coverage of the pathogen. In this study, the CLas genome was successfully sequenced with 99.3% genome coverage and over 72X sequencing coverage from low titer tissue samples (equivalent to 28.52 Cq using Li 16 S qPCR). More importantly, this method also effectively captures regions of diversity in the CLas genome, which provides precise molecular characterization of different strains.
AbstractBois noir, a disease of the grapevine yellows complex, is associated with ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ and transmitted to grapevines in open fields by the cixiids Hyalesthes obsoletus and Reptalus panzeri. In vine-growing areas where the population density of these vectors is low within the vineyard, the occurrence of bois noir implies the existence of alternative vectors. The aim of this study was to identify alternative vectors through screening of the Auchenorrhyncha community, phytoplasma typing by stamp gene sequence analyses, and transmission trials. During field activities, conducted in Northern Italy in a vineyard where the bois noir incidence was extremely high, nine potential alternative insect vectors were identified according to high abundance in the vineyard agro-ecosystem, high infection rate, and harbouring phytoplasma strains characterized by stamp gene sequence variants found also in symptomatic grapevines. Transmission trials coupled with molecular analyses showed that at least eight species (Aphrodes makarovi, Dicranotropis hamata, Dictyophara europaea, Euscelis incisus, Euscelidius variegatus, Laodelphax striatella, Philaenus spumarius, and Psammotettix alienus/confinis) are alternative vectors of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma solani’ to grapevines. These novel findings highlight that bois noir epidemiology in vineyard agro-ecosystems is more complex than previously known, opening up new perspectives in the disease management.
Plant pathogenic bacteria interact with their insect host(s)/vector(s) at the cellular and molecular levels. This interaction may alter the physiology of their insect vector, which may also promote the growth and transmission of the bacterium. Here we studied the effect of “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” (“Ca. L. asiaticus”) on physiochemical conditions within its insect vector, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), and whether these changes were beneficial for the pathogen. The local microenvironments inside ACPs were quantified using microelectrodes. The average hemolymph pH was significantly higher in infected ACPs (8.13 ± 0.21) than in “Ca. L. asiaticus”-free ACPs (7.29 ± 0.15). The average hemolymph oxygen tension was higher in “Ca. L. asiaticus”-free ACPs than in infected ACPs (67.13% ± 2.11% vs. 35.61% ± 1.26%). Oxygen tension reduction and pH increase were accompanied by “Ca. L. asiaticus” infection. Thus, oxygen tension of the hemolymph is an indicator of infection status, with pH affected by the severity of the infection.
The tomato-potato psyllid (TPP), Bactericera cockerelli, is a vector for the phloem-limited bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso), the causative agent of economically important diseases including tomato vein-greening and potato zebra chip. Here, we screened 11 wild tomato relatives for TPP resistance as potential resources for tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) cultivar development. Six accessions with strong TPP resistance (survival <10%) were identified within S. habrochaites, S. pennelli, S. huaylasense, S. chmielewskii, S. corneliomulleri, and S. galapagense. Two S. pennelli and S. corneliomulleri accessions also showed resistance to Lso. We evaluated recombinant inbred lines (RILs) carrying resistance from S. habrochaites accession LA1777 in the S. lycopersicum background and identified major quantitative trait loci (QTLs) responsible for adult TPP mortality and fecundity in several RILs carrying insertions in different chromosomes, indicating the polygenic nature of these traits. Analysis of a major resistance QTL in RIL LA3952 on chromosome 8 revealed that the presence of Lso is required to increase adult TPP mortality. By contrast, the reduced TPP oviposition trait in LA3952 is independent of Lso. Therefore, resistance traits are available in wild-tomato species, although their complex inheritance and modes of action require further characterisation to optimise their utilisation for tomato improvement.
Citrus greening disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB), is the most devastating disease of Citrus worldwide. This incurable disease is caused primarily by the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus and spread by feeding of the Asian Citrus Psyllid, Diaphorina citri. Ca. L. asiaticus cannot be cultured; its growth is restricted to citrus phloem and the psyllid insect. Management of infected trees includes use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which have disadvantages. Recent work has sought to identify small molecules that inhibit Ca. L. asiaticus transcription regulators, based on a premise that at least some regulators control expression of genes necessary for virulence. We describe a synthetic, high-throughput screening system to identify compounds that inhibit activity of Ca. L. asiaticus transcription activators LdtR, RpoH, and VisNR. Our system uses the closely related model bacterium, Sinorhizobium meliloti, as a heterologous host for expression of a Ca. L. asiaticus transcription activator, the activity of which is detected through expression of an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene fused to a target promoter. We used this system to screen more than 120,000 compounds for compounds that inhibited regulator activity, but not growth. Our screen identified several dozen compounds that inhibit regulator activity in our assay. This work shows that, in addition to providing a means of characterizing Ca. L. asiaticus regulators, an S. meliloti host can be used for preliminary identification of candidate inhibitory molecules.