Huanglongbing (HLB) is an important citrus disease associated with the phloem-limited, uncultured bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’(CLas). Effective treatments against CLas have to be validated in the field, however, methods for the field assessment of treatment effectiveness are time-consuming, in part because DNA-based assays, including quantitative PCR (qPCR), cannot differentiate between live and dead bacterial DNA. The aim of this study was to develop a method for rapid the evaluation of HLB therapies in field experiments. To this aim, a DNA extraction method from citrus leaf tissues with propidum monoazide (PMA), a dye that binds covalently to dsDNA making it unavailable for amplification in subsequent qPCR reactions, was optimized. The results indicated that the efficacy of PMA-qPCR was highly dependent on the primer set used. Primers targeting the 16S region of CLas showed a clear distinction between qPCR from PMA-treated and non-treated samples, while the RNR and LJ900 primers did not show significant differences between the DNA extraction methods. The PMA-qPCR viability analysis of CLas from citrus cuttings treated with different ampicillin (Amp) concentrations showed that all concentrations reduced CLas titers significantly starting 4 days after the initial treatment, unlike the water treatment, which did not show any change. This method was used for assessing the antibacterial activity of Amp, Streptomycin, Oxytetracycline (OTC), and a water control in field tests. The PMA-qPCR results indicated that Amp and OTC displayed significant antibacterial activity against CLas by 8 days post-injection, which was not detected in the non-PMA qPCR analysis. This method could allow the rapid validation of treatments against CLas in field experiments and facilitate the implementation of effective management strategies against HLB.
The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri, is an invasive insect and a vector of ‘ Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ ( CLas), a bacterium whose growth in Citrus species results in huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease. Methods to enrich and sequence CLas from D. citri often rely on biased genome amplification and nevertheless contain significant quantities of host DNA. To overcome these hurdles, we developed a simple pretreatment DNase and filtration (PDF) protocol to remove host DNA and directly sequence CLas and the complete, primarily uncultivable microbiome from D. citri adults. The PDF protocol yielded CLas abundances upward of 60% and facilitated direct measurement of CLas and endosymbiont replication rates in psyllids. The PDF protocol confirmed our lab strains derived from a progenitor Florida CLas strain and accumulated 156 genetic variants, underscoring the utility of this method for bacterial strain tracking. CLas genetic polymorphisms arising in lab-reared psyllid populations included prophage-encoding regions with key functions in CLas pathogenesis, putative antibiotic resistance loci, and a single secreted effector. These variants suggest that laboratory propagation of CLas could result in different phenotypic trajectories among laboratories and could confound CLas physiology or therapeutic design and evaluation if these differences remain undocumented. Finally, we obtained genetic signatures affiliated with Citrus nuclear and organellar genomes, entomopathogenic fungal mitochondria, and commensal bacteria from laboratory-reared and field-collected D. citri adults. Hence, the PDF protocol can directly inform agricultural management strategies related to bacterial strain tracking, insect microbiome surveillance, and antibiotic resistance screening.
Background: Huanglongbing (HLB) is currently one of the most devasting diseases in citrus plants worldwide. Resistance against its causal agent, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), in commercial Citrus species remains a challenge, even though they show differences in CLas multiplication. Methods: A total of 14 citrandarins and their parents (Sunki mandarin and Poncirus trifoliata cv. Rubidoux) were top-grafted onto the canopy of potted ‘Valencia’ sweet orange plants with high CLas titers. The grafted genotypes were tested for CLas infection and physiological effects of the disease (starch accumulation and callose deposition) for 12 months. Results: All tested genotypes were infected by CLas during the time frame of the experiment. However, a decrease in the infection rate ranging from 50% to 80% for the hybrids H109, H126, H157, and H222 was observed 360 days from the top-grafting. CLas was undetected by real-time PCR in H106 at the end of the experiment, which had low levels of starch and callose deposition. Conclusions: CLas infected all of the tested citrandarins, but a decrease in the infection rate over time was detected for some specific genotypes, which led to less starch accumulation and callose deposition.