Huanglongbing (HLB) is currently the most devastating disease of citrus worldwide. Both bacteria ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter americanus’ (CLam) are associated with HLB in Brazil but with a strong prevalence of CLas over CLam. Conventionally, HLB management focuses on controlling the insect vector population (Diaphorina citri; also known as Asian citrus psyllid [ACP]) by spraying insecticides, an approach demonstrated to be mostly ineffective. Thus, development of novel, more efficient HLB control strategies is required. The multifunctional bacterial outer membrane protein OmpA is involved in several molecular processes between bacteria and their hosts and has been suggested as a target for bacterial control. Curiously, OmpA is absent in CLam in comparison with CLas, suggesting a possible role in host interaction. Therefore, in the current study, we have treated ACPs with different OmpA-derived peptides, aiming to evaluate acquisition of CLas by the insect vector. Treatment of psyllids with 5 µM of Pep1, Pep3, Pep5, and Pep6 in artificial diet significantly reduced the acquisition of CLas, whereas increasing the concentration of Pep5 and Pep6 to 50 µM abolished this process. In addition, in planta treatment with 50 µM of Pep6 also significantly decreased the acquisition of CLas, and sweet orange plants stably absorbed and maintained this peptide for as long as 3 months post the final application. Together, our results demonstrate the promising use of OmpA-derived peptides as a novel biotechnological tool to control CLas.
Candidatus Liberibacter spp. are fastidious α-proteobacteria that cause multiple diseases on plant hosts of economic importance, including the most devastating citrus disease: Huanglongbing (HLB). HLB was reported in Asia a century ago but has since spread worldwide. Understanding the pathogenesis of Candidatus Liberibacter spp. remains challenging as they are yet to be cultured in artificial media and infect the phloem, a sophisticated environment that is difficult to manipulate. Despite those challenges, tremendous progress has been made on Ca. Liberibacter pathosystems. Here, we first reviewed recent studies on genetic information of flagellar and type IV pili biosynthesis, their expression profiles, and movement of Ca. Liberibacter spp. inside the plant and insect hosts. Next, we reviewed the transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic studies of susceptible and tolerant plant genotypes to Ca. Liberibacter spp. infection and how Ca. Liberibacter spp. adapt in plants. Analyses of the interactions between plants and Ca. Liberibacter spp. imply the involvement of immune response in the Ca. Liberibacter pathosystems. Lastly, we reviewed how Ca. Liberibacter spp. movement inside and interactions with plants lead to symptom development.
‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’, the putative causal agent of citrus greening, is not available in pure culture yet. In addition to trees of citrus and citrus relatives, ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ can grow in Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus). Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we compared the phloem sap composition in sweet orange ‘Valencia’ (Citrus sinensis) and periwinkle plants after the infection with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’. Interestingly, in contrast to our previous studies of total leaf metabolites, we found that, compared with uninfected phloem sap, the organic acids implicated in the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) cycle including citrate, isocitrate, succinate, fumarate, and malate were reduced significantly in the infected phloem saps of both species. As a result of the reduction of organic acids content, the pH of infected phloem saps was increased. We hypothesize that the bacterial growth induces the mitochondrial TCA cycle in parenchyma cells to produce more of these compounds to be used as a bacterial carbon source. Once these compounds reach a low level in the phloem sap, the bacterium may send a signal, yet to be identified, to initiate a feedback loop to further induce the TCA cycle. Phloem blockage might be another reason behind the reduced translocation of TCA cycle intermediates within the phloem. The net result, localized availability of organic acids, likely benefits bacterial growth and may explain the unequal distribution of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ within infected trees. These findings may help in designing media for the pure culturing of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’.
It has been nearly 100 years since citrus growers in two distinct regions in the northern provinces of South Africa noticed unusual symptoms in their citrus trees, causing significant crop losses. They had no idea that these symptoms would later become part of an almost global pandemic of a disease called greening or huanglongbing (HLB). The rapid spread of the disease indicated that it might be caused by a transmissible pathogen, but it took >50 years to identify the causative agent as ‘Candidatus Liberibacter africanus’. Recently, the disease appeared in more African countries, spreading by both infected planting material and Trioza erytreae. To date, five ‘Ca. L. africanus’ subspecies have been identified in various rutaceous species, with ‘Ca. L. africanus subsp. clausenae’ the only subspecies for which a biovar was detected in citrus. Efforts to detect and differentiate HLB-causing Liberibacter species are ongoing, and recent developments are discussed here. This review focuses on aspects of the African form of HLB, including its specific bacterial species and subspecies, its main insect vector, its geographic distribution, and current management strategies.