The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), is the primary vector of the phloem-limited bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (LAS) associated with huanglongbing (HLB, citrus greening), considered the world’s most serious disease of citrus. Stylet morphometrics of ACP nymphs and adults were studied in relation to citrus vein structure and to their putative (histologically verified) feeding sites on Valencia orange leaves. ACP nymphs preferred to settle and feed on the lower (abaxial) side of young leaves either on secondary veins or on the sides of the midrib, whereas adults preferred to settle and feed on the upper (adaxial) or lower secondary veins of young or old leaves. Early instar nymphs can reach and probe the phloem probably because the distance to the phloem is considerably shorter in younger than in mature leaves, and is shorter from the sides of the midrib compared to that from the center. Additionally, the thick-walled ‘fibrous ring’ (sclerenchyma) around the phloem, which may act as a barrier to ACP stylet penetration into the phloem, is more prominent in older than in younger leaves and in the center than on the sides of the midrib. The majority (80–90%) of the salivary sheath termini produced by ACP nymphs and adults that reached a vascular bundle were associated with the phloem, whereas only 10–20% were associated with xylem vessels. Ultrastructural studies on ACP stylets and LAS-infected leaves suggested that the width of the maxillary food canal in first instar nymphs is wide enough for LAS bacteria to traverse during food ingestion (and LAS acquisition). However, the width of the maxillary salivary canal in these nymphs may not be wide enough to accommodate LAS bacteria during salivation (and LAS inoculation) into host plants. This may explain the inability of early instar nymphs to transmit LAS/HLB in earlier reports.
Citrus huanglongbing (HLB) disease is caused by endogenous, phloem-restricted, Gram negative, uncultured bacteria named Candidatus Liberibacter africanus (CaLaf), Ca. L. asiaticus (CaLas), and Ca. L. americanus (CaLam), depending on the continent where the bacteria were first detected. The Asian citrus psyllid vector, Diaphorina citri, transmits CaLas and CaLam and both Liberibacter species are present in Brazil. Several studies of the transcriptional response of citrus plants manifesting HLB symptoms have been reported, but only for CaLas infection. This study evaluated the transcriptional reprogramming of a susceptible genotype of sweet orange challenged with CaLam, using a customized 385K microarray containing approximately 32,000 unigene transcripts. We analyzed global changes in gene expression of CaLam-infected leaves of sweet orange during the symptomatic stage of infection and compared the results with previously published microarray studies that used CaLas-infected plants. Twenty candidate genes were selected to validate the expression profiles in symptomatic and asymptomatic PCR-positive leaves infected with CaLas or CaLam.
The microarray analysis identified 633 differentially expressed genes during the symptomatic stage of CaLam infection. Among them, 418 (66%) were upregulated and 215 (34%) were down regulated. Five hundred and fourteen genes (81%) were orthologs of genes from Arabidopsis thaliana. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) revealed that several of the transcripts encoded transporters associated with the endomembrane system, especially zinc transport. Among the most biologically relevant gene transcripts in GSEA were those related to signaling, metabolism and/or stimulus to hormones, genes responding to stress and pathogenesis, biosynthesis of secondary metabolites, oxidative stress and transcription factors belonging to different families. Real time PCR of 20 candidate genes validated the expression pattern of some genes in symptomatic and asymptomatic leaves infected with CaLam or CaLas.
Many gene transcripts and biological processes are significantly altered upon CaLam infection. Some of them had been identified in response to CaLas infection, while others had not been previously reported. These data will be useful for selecting target genes for genetic engineering to control HLB.
Gene expression; Sweet orange; huanglongbing; Plant-pathogen interaction
he Asian citrus psyllid Diaphorina citri is a notorious agricultural pest that transmits the phloem-inhabiting alphaproteobacterial ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ and allied plant pathogens, which cause the devastating citrus disease called Huanglongbing or greening disease. D. citri harbors two distinct bacterial mutualists in the symbiotic organ called bacteriome: the betaproteobacterium ‘Candidatus Profftella armatura’ in the syncytial cytoplasm at the center of the bacteriome, and the gammaproteobacterium ‘Candidatus Carsonella ruddii’ in uninucleate bacteriocytes. Here we report that a putative amino acid transporter LysE of Profftella forms a highly supported clade with proteins of L. asiaticus, L. americanus, and L. solanacearum. L. crescens, the most basal Liberibacter lineage currently known, lacked the corresponding gene. The Profftella-Liberibacter subclade of LysE formed a clade with proteins from betaproteobacteria of the order Burkholderiales, to which Profftella belongs. This phylogenetic pattern favors the hypothesis that the Liberibacter lineage acquired the gene from the Profftella lineage via horizontal gene transfer (HGT) after L. crescens diverged from other Liberibacter lineages. KA/KS analyses further supported the hypothesis that the genes encoded in the Liberibacter genomes are functional. These findings highlight the possible evolutionary importance of HGT between plant pathogens and their insect vector’s symbionts that are confined in the symbiotic organ and seemingly sequestered from external microbial populations.
The potato/tomato psyllid, Bactericerca cockerelli (B. cockerelli), and the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri (D. citri), are very important plant pests, but they are also vectors of phloem-limited bacteria that are associated with two devastating plant diseases. B. cockerelli is the vector of Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous (solanacearum), which is associated with zebra chip disease of potatoes, and D. citri is the vector of Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus, which is associated with the Huanglongbing (citrus greening) disease that currently threatens the entire Florida citrus industry. Here we used EST sequence information from D. citri to identify potential targets for RNA interference in B. cockerelli. We targeted ubiquitously expressed and gut-abundant mRNAs via injection and oral acquisition of double-stranded RNAs and siRNAs and were able to induce mortality in recipient psyllids. We also showed knockdown of target mRNAs, and that oral acquisition resulted primarily in mRNA knockdown in the psyllid gut. Concurrent with gene knockdown was the accumulation of target specific ∼ 21 nucleotide siRNAs for an abundant mRNA for BC-Actin. These results showed that RNAi can be a powerful tool for gene function studies in psyllids, and give support for continued efforts for investigating RNAi approaches as possible tools for psyllid and plant disease control.
Transmission of plant pathogens by insect vectors is a complex biological process involving interactions between the plant, insect, and pathogen. Pathogen-induced plant responses can include changes in volatile and nonvolatile secondary metabolites as well as major plant nutrients. Experiments were conducted to understand how a plant pathogenic bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las), affects host preference behavior of its psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama) vector. D. citri were attracted to volatiles from pathogen-infected plants more than to those from non-infected counterparts. Las-infected plants were more attractive to D. citri adults than non-infected plants initially; however after feeding, psyllids subsequently dispersed to non-infected rather than infected plants as their preferred settling point. Experiments with Las-infected and non-infected plants under complete darkness yielded similar results to those recorded under light. The behavior of psyllids in response to infected versus non-infected plants was not influenced by whether or not they were carriers of the pathogen. Quantification of volatile release from non-infected and infected plants supported the hypothesis that odorants mediate psyllid preference. Significantly more methyl salicylate, yet less methyl anthranilate and D-limonene, was released by infected than non-infected plants. Methyl salicylate was attractive to psyllids, while methyl anthranilate did not affect their behavior. Feeding on citrus by D. citri adults also induced release of methyl salicylate, suggesting that it may be a cue revealing location of conspecifics on host plants. Infected plants were characterized by lower levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, zinc, and iron, as well as, higher levels of potassium and boron than non-infected plants. Collectively, our results suggest that host selection behavior of D. citri may be modified by bacterial infection of plants, which alters release of specific headspace volatiles and plant nutritional contents. Furthermore, we show in a laboratory setting that this apparent pathogen-mediated manipulation of vector behavior may facilitate pathogen spread.
In this investigation, we experimentally demonstrate specific mechanisms through which a bacterial plant pathogen induces plant responses that modify behavior of its insect vector. Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, a fastidious, phloem-limited bacterium responsible for causing huanglongbing disease of citrus, induced release of a specific volatile chemical, methyl salicylate, which increased attractiveness of infected plants to its insect vector, Diaphorina citri, and caused vectors to initially prefer infected plants. However, the insect vectors subsequently dispersed to non-infected plants as their preferred location of prolonged settling because of likely sub-optimal nutritional content of infected plants. The duration of initial feeding on infected plants was sufficiently long for the vectors to acquire the pathogen before they dispersed to non-infected plants, suggesting that the bacterial pathogen manipulates behavior of its insect vector to promote its own proliferation. The behavior of psyllids in response to infected versus non-infected plants was not influenced by whether or not they were carriers of the pathogen and was similar under both light and dark conditions. Feeding on citrus by D. citri adults also induced the release of methyl salicylate, suggesting that it may be a cue revealing location of conspecifics on host plants.
This study was conducted to obtain information on the cold hardiness of the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), in Florida and to assess upper and lower temperature thresholds for oviposition. The psyllid is an important pest in citrus because it transmits the bacterial pathogens responsible for citrus greening disease, Huanglongbing, considered the most serious citrus disease worldwide. D. citri was first found in Florida during 1998, and the disease was discovered during 2005. Little was known regarding cold hardiness of D. citri, but Florida citrus is occasionally subjected to notable freeze events. Temperature and duration were each significant sources of variation in percent mortality of D. citri subjected to freeze events. Relatively large percentages of adults and nymphs survived after being exposed for several hours to temperatures as low as -5 to -6° C. Relatively large percentages of eggs hatched after being exposed for several hours to temperatures as low as -8° C. Research results indicated that adult D. citri become cold acclimated during the winter through exposure to cooler winter temperatures. There was no evidence that eggs became cold acclimated during winter. Cold acclimation in nymphs was not investigated. Research with adult D. citri from laboratory and greenhouse colonies revealed that mild to moderate freeze events were usually nonlethal to the D. citri irrespective of whether they were cold acclimated or not. Upper and lower temperature thresholds for oviposition were investigated because such information may be valuable in explaining the geographic distribution and potential spread of the pest from Florida as well as how cooler winter temperatures might limit population growth. The estimated lower and upper thresholds for oviposition were 16.0 and 41.6° C, respectively; the estimated temperature of peak oviposition over a 48 h period was 29.6° C.
insecticide; cold acclimation; Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus; Huanglongbing
Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most destructive citrus diseases in the world. The disease is associated with the presence of a fastidious, phloem-limited α- proteobacterium, 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus', 'Ca. Liberibacter africanus' or 'Ca. Liberibacter americanus'. HLB-associated Liberibacters have spread to North America and South America in recent years. While the causal agents of HLB have been putatively identified, information regarding the worldwide population structure and epidemiological relationships for 'Ca. L. asiaticus' is limited. The availability of the 'Ca. L. asiaticus' genome sequence has facilitated development of molecular markers from this bacterium. The objectives of this study were to develop microsatellite markers and conduct genetic analyses of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' from a worldwide collection. Two hundred eighty seven isolates from USA (Florida), Brazil, China, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, and Japan were analyzed.
A panel of seven polymorphic microsatellite markers was developed for 'Ca. L. asiaticus'. Microsatellite analyses across the samples showed that the genetic diversity of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' is higher in Asia than Americas. UPGMA and STRUCTURE analyses identified three major genetic groups worldwide. Isolates from India were genetically distinct. East-southeast Asian and Brazilian isolates were generally included in the same group; a few members of this group were found in Florida, but the majority of the isolates from Florida were clustered separately. eBURST analysis predicted three founder haplotypes, which may have given rise to three groups worldwide.
Our results identified three major genetic groups of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' worldwide. Isolates from Brazil showed similar genetic makeup with east-southeast Asian dominant group, suggesting the possibility of a common origin. However, most of the isolates recovered from Florida were clustered in a separate group. While the sources of the dominant 'Ca. L. asiaticus' in Florida were not clearly understood, the less-pervasive groups may have been introduced directly from Asia or via Brazil. Notably, the recent outbreak of HLB in Florida probably occurred through multiple introductions. Microsatellite markers developed in this study provide adequate discriminatory power for the identification and differentiation of closely-related isolates, as well as for genetic studies of 'Ca. L. asiaticus'.
Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), the Asian citrus psyllid, is the insect vector of Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus, the causal agent of citrus greening disease. Sequencing of the D. citri metagenome has been initiated to gain better understanding of the biology of this organism and the potential roles of its bacterial endosymbionts. To corroborate candidate endosymbionts previously identified by rDNA amplification, raw reads from the D. citri metagenome sequence were mapped to reference genome sequences. Results of the read mapping provided the most support for Wolbachia and an enteric bacterium most similar to Salmonella. Wolbachia-derived reads were extracted using the complete genome sequences for four Wolbachia strains. Reads were assembled into a draft genome sequence, and the annotation assessed for the presence of features potentially involved in host interaction. Genome alignment with the complete sequences reveals membership of Wolbachia wDi in supergroup B, further supported by phylogenetic analysis of FtsZ. FtsZ and Wsp phylogenies additionally indicate that the Wolbachia strain in the Florida D. citri isolate falls into a sub-clade of supergroup B, distinct from Wolbachia present in Chinese D. citri isolates, supporting the hypothesis that the D. citri introduced into Florida did not originate from China.
“Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” is a psyllid-transmitted, phloem-limited alphaproteobacterium and the most prevalent species of “Ca. Liberibacter” associated with a devastating worldwide citrus disease known as huanglongbing (HLB). Two related and hypervariable genes (hyvI and hyvII) were identified in the prophage regions of the Psy62 “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” genome. Sequence analyses of the hyvI and hyvII genes in 35 “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” DNA isolates collected globally revealed that the hyvI gene contains up to 12 nearly identical tandem repeats (NITRs, 132 bp) and 4 partial repeats, while hyvII contains up to 2 NITRs and 4 partial repeats and shares homology with hyvI. Frequent deletions or insertions of these repeats within the hyvI and hyvII genes were observed, none of which disrupted the open reading frames. Sequence conservation within the individual repeats but an extensive variation in repeat numbers, rearrangement, and the sequences flanking the repeat region indicate the diversity and plasticity of “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” bacterial populations in the world. These differences were found not only in samples of distinct geographical origins but also in samples from a single origin and even from a single “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus”-infected sample. This is the first evidence of different “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” populations coexisting in a single HLB-affected sample. The Florida “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” isolates contain both hyvI and hyvII, while all other global “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” isolates contain either one or the other. Interclade assignments of the putative HyvI and HyvII proteins from Florida isolates with other global isolates in phylogenetic trees imply multiple “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” populations in the world and a multisource introduction of the “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” bacterium into Florida.
The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri (Hemiptera: Psyllidae) is the primary vector of the bacterium causing citrus huanglongbing (citrus greening), the most serious disease of citrus worldwide. Psyllids and other hemipterans produce large amounts of honeydew, which has been used previously as an indicator of phloem sap composition and insect feeding or metabolism. Behavioral, ultrastructural and chemical studies on ACP, its honeydew and waxy secretions showed important differences between nymphs, males and females, and suggested some mechanisms by which the psyllids, especially nymphs and adult females, can minimize their contamination with honeydew excretions. The anal opening in ACP, near the posterior end of the abdomen, is on the ventral side in nymphs and on the dorsal side in adult males and females. Video recordings showed that adult males produce clear sticky droplets of honeydew gently deposited behind their body on the leaf surface, whereas adult females produce whitish honeydew pellets powerfully propelled away from the female body, probably to get their excretions away from eggs and newly hatched nymphs. ACP nymphs produce long ribbons or tubes of honeydew that frequently stay attached to the exuviae after molting, or drop when feeding on the lower side of citrus leaves. Furthermore, honeydew excretions of both nymphs and adult females are covered with a thin layer of whitish waxy material ultrastructurally composed of a convoluted network of long fine filaments or ribbons. This material is extruded from intricate arrays of wax pores in the circumanal ring (around the anus) that is found in nymphs and females but not in males of ACP or other psyllid species. Infrared microscopy and mass spectroscopy revealed that, in addition to various sugars, honeydew excretions of ACP nymphs and females are covered with a thin layer of wax similar in profile to ester waxes.
The relationship between the causal agent of Huanglongbing (HLB), Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus(Las), and the naturally occurring endosymbiotic community of its insect vector, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri, was studied. Variation was observed in the titer of Las within an ACP population feeding on the same material. The cause of this disparity is unknown, and has implications for Las transmission and the spread of HLB. This study utilizes culture independent methods to establish the relationship between the ACP’s microbial community and Las acquisition. DNA from 21 psyllids was amplified using universal 16S rRNA primers with Illumina adaptor regions and a sample-specific 7- base identifier. These amplicons were then batch-sequenced on the Illumina platform. The resulting sequences were separated by the identifier, and compared to known sequences in a 16S rRNA database. The microbial communities of each psyllid were compared to determine whether a correlation exists between the ACP’s endosymbionts and level of Las acquisition.
ACPs were dominated by the same four bacterialgenera regardless of the abundance of Ca.Liberibacter. A combination of qPCR and Illumina sequencing was used to establish an infection gradient among the sampled ACPs. The Ca. Liberibacter titer within the insect was found to have a strong negative relationship with an endosymbiont residing in the syncytium of the mycetocyte and a positive relationship with Wolbachia. These correlations have implications in the acquisition of Las by the ACP as well as the activities of Las within this vector.
Bacteriocyte; Huanglongbing; Illumina; multiplex; psyllid; syncytium endosymbiont.
Huanglongbing (HLB, previously known as citrus greening), is associated with Candidatus Liberibacter species and is a serious threat to citrus production world-wide. The pathogen is a Gram negative, unculturable, phloem-limited bacterium with limited known genomic information. Expanding the genetic knowledge of this organism may provide better understanding of the pathogen and possibly develop effective strategies for control and management of HLB.
Here, we report cloning and characterization of an additional 14.7 Kb of new genomic sequences from three different genomic regions of the Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Las). Sequence variation analyses among the available Ca. Liberibacter species sequences as well as the newly cloned 1.5 Kb of rpoB gene from different Ca. Liberibacter strains have identified INDELs and SNPs. Phylogenetic analysis of the deduced protein sequences from the cloned regions characterizes the HLB-associated Candidatus Liberibacter as a new clade in the sub-division of the α-proteobacteria.
Comparative analyses of the cloned gene regions of Candidatus Liberibacter with members of the order Rhizobiales suggest overall gene structure and order conservation, albeit with minor variations including gene decay due to the identified pseudogenes. The newly cloned gene regions contribute to our understanding of the molecular aspects of genomic evolution of Ca. Liberibacter.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is arguably the most destructive disease for the citrus industry. HLB is caused by infection of the bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter spp. Several citrus GeneChip studies have revealed thousands of genes that are up- or down-regulated by infection with Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus. However, whether and how these host genes act to protect against HLB remains poorly understood.
As a first step towards a mechanistic view of citrus in response to the HLB bacterial infection, we performed a comparative transcriptome analysis and found that a total of 21 Probesets are commonly up-regulated by the HLB bacterial infection. In addition, a number of genes are likely regulated specifically at early, late or very late stages of the infection. Furthermore, using Pearson correlation coefficient-based gene coexpression analysis, we constructed a citrus HLB response network consisting of 3,507 Probesets and 56,287 interactions. Genes involved in carbohydrate and nitrogen metabolic processes, transport, defense, signaling and hormone response were overrepresented in the HLB response network and the subnetworks for these processes were constructed. Analysis of the defense and hormone response subnetworks indicates that hormone response is interconnected with defense response. In addition, mapping the commonly up-regulated HLB responsive genes into the HLB response network resulted in a core subnetwork where transport plays a key role in the citrus response to the HLB bacterial infection. Moreover, analysis of a phloem protein subnetwork indicates a role for this protein and zinc transporters or zinc-binding proteins in the citrus HLB defense response.
Through integrating transcriptome comparison and gene coexpression network analysis, we have provided for the first time a systems view of citrus in response to the Ca. Liberibacter spp. infection causing HLB.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Ca. L. asiaticus) is a parasitic Gram-negative bacterium that is closely associated with Huanglongbing (HLB), a worldwide citrus disease. Given the difficulty in culturing the bacterium and thus in its experimental characterization, computational analyses of the whole Ca. L. asiaticus proteome can provide much needed insights into the mechanisms of the disease and guide the development of treatment strategies. In this study, we applied state-of-the-art sequence analysis tools to every Ca. L. asiaticus protein. Our results are available as a public website at http://prodata.swmed.edu/liberibacter_asiaticus/. In particular, we manually curated the results to predict the subcellular localization, spatial structure and function of all Ca. L. asiaticus proteins (http://prodata.swmed.edu/liberibacter_asiaticus/curated/). This extensive information should facilitate the study of Ca. L. asiaticus proteome function and its relationship to disease. Pilot studies based on the information from our website have revealed several potential virulence factors, discussed herein.
Citrus huanglongbing (HLB) is a highly destructive disease of citrus presumably caused by ‘Candidatus
asiaticus’ (Las), a gram-negative, insect-transmitted, phloem-limited α-proteobacterium. Although almost all citrus plants are susceptible to HLB, reports have shown reduced susceptibility to Las infection in lemon (Citruslimon) plants. The aim of this study is to identify intra-species specific molecular mechanisms associated with Las-induced responses in lemon plants. To achieve this, comparative 2-DE and mass spectrometry, in addition to Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectroscopy (ICPS) analyses, were applied to investigate differences in protein accumulation and the concentrations of cationic elements in leaves of healthy and Las-infected lemon plants. Results showed a differential accumulation of 27 proteins, including an increase in accumulation of starch synthase but decrease in the production of photosynthesis-related proteins in Las-infected lemon plants compared to healthy plants. Furthermore, there was a 6% increase (P > 0.05) in K concentration in leaves of lemon plants upon Las infection, which support results from previous studies and might represent a common response pattern of citrus plants to Las infection. Interestingly, contrary to reports from prior studies, this study showed a general reduction in the production of defense-related pathogen-response proteins but a 128% increase in Zn concentration in lemon plants in response to Las infection. Taken together, this study sheds light on general and intra-species specific responses associated with the response of citrus plants to Las.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is a highly destructive citrus disease which threatens citrus production worldwide and ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las), a non-culturable phloem-limited bacterium, is an associated causal agent of the disease. To better understand the physiological and molecular processes involved in host responses to Las, 2-DE and mass spectrometry analyses, as well as ICP spectroscopy analysis were employed to elucidate the global protein expression profiles and nutrient concentrations in leaves of Las-infected grapefruit plants at pre-symptomatic or symptomatic stages for HLB.
This study identified 123 protein spots out of 191 spots that showed significant changes in the leaves of grapefruit plants in response to Las infection and all identified spots matched to 69 unique proteins/peptides. A down-regulation of 56 proteins including those associated with photosynthesis, protein synthesis, and metabolism was correlated with significant reductions in the concentrations of Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn, Mn, and Cu in leaves of grapefruit plants in response to Las infection, particularly in symptomatic plants. Oxygen-evolving enhancer (OEE) proteins, a PSI 9 kDa protein, and a Btf3-like protein were among a small group of proteins that were down-regulated in both pre-symptomatic and symptomatic plants in response to Las infection. Furthermore, a Las-mediated up-regulation of 13 grapefruit proteins was detected, which included Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase, chitinases, lectin-related proteins, miraculin-like proteins, peroxiredoxins and a CAP 160 protein. Interestingly, a Las-mediated up-regulation of granule-bound starch synthase was correlated with an increase in the K concentrations of pre-symptomatic and symptomatic plants.
This study constitutes the first attempt to characterize the interrelationships between protein expression and nutritional status of Las-infected pre-symptomatic or symptomatic grapefruit plants and sheds light on the physiological and molecular mechanisms associated with HLB disease development.
Grapefruit; Huanglongbing; Proteomics; Nutrients; Host response
Prophages are highly dynamic components in the bacterial genome and play an important role in intraspecies variations. There are at least two prophages in the chromosomes of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las) Floridian isolates. Las is both unculturable and the most prevalent species of Liberibacter pathogens that cause huanglongbing (HLB), a worldwide destructive disease of citrus. In this study, seven new prophage variants resulting from two hyper-variable regions were identified by screening clone libraries of infected citrus, periwinkle and psyllids. Among them, Types A and B share highly conserved sequences and localize within the two prophages, FP1 and FP2, respectively. Although Types B and C were abundant in all three libraries, Type A was much more abundant in the libraries from the Las-infected psyllids than from the Las-infected plants, and Type D was only identified in libraries from the infected host plants but not from the infected psyllids. Sequence analysis of these variants revealed that the variations may result from recombination and rearrangement events. Conventional PCR results using type-specific molecular markers indicated that A, B, C and D are the four most abundant types in Las-infected citrus and periwinkle. However, only three types, A, B and C are abundant in Las-infected psyllids. Typing results for Las-infected citrus field samples indicated that mixed populations of Las bacteria present in Floridian isolates, but only the Type D population was correlated with the blotchy mottle symptom. Extended cloning and sequencing of the Type D region revealed a third prophage/phage in the Las genome, which may derive from the recombination of FP1 and FP2. Dramatic variations in these prophage regions were also found among the global Las isolates. These results are the first to demonstrate the prophage/phage-mediated dynamics of Las populations in plant and insect hosts, and their correlation with insect transmission and disease development.
Huanglongbing (HLB) causes considerable economic losses to citrus industries worldwide. Its management depends on controlling of the Asian citrus Psyllid (ACP), the vector of the bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), the causal agent of HLB. Silencing genes by RNA interference (RNAi) is a promising tool to explore gene functions as well as control pests. In the current study, abnormal wing disc (awd) gene associated with wing development in insects is used to interfere with the flight of psyllids. Our study showed that transcription of awd is development-dependent and the highest level was found in the last instar (5th) of the nymphal stage. Micro-application (topical application) of dsRNA to 5th instar of nymphs caused significant nymphal mortality and adult wing-malformation. These adverse effects in ACP were positively correlated with the amounts of dsRNA used. A qRT-PCR analysis confirmed the dsRNA-mediated transcriptional down-regulation of the awd gene. Significant down-regulation was required to induce a wing-malformed phenotype. No effect was found when dsRNA-gfp was used, indicating the specific effect of dsRNA-awd. Our findings suggest a role for awd in ACP wing development and metamorphosis. awd could serve as a potential target for insect management either via direct application of dsRNA or by producing transgenic plants expressing dsRNA-awd. These strategies will help to mitigate HLB by controlling ACP.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (Ca. L. asiaticus) is a Gram-negative bacterium and the pathogen of Citrus Greening disease (Huanglongbing, HLB). As a parasitic bacterium, Ca. L. asiaticus harbors ABC transporters that play important roles in exchanging chemical compounds between Ca. L. asiaticus and its host. Here, we analyzed all the ABC transporter-related proteins in Ca. L. asiaticus. We identified 14 ABC transporter systems and predicted their structures and substrate specificities. In-depth sequence and structure analysis including multiple sequence alignment, phylogenetic tree reconstruction, and structure comparison further support their function predictions. Our study shows that this bacterium could use these ABC transporters to import metabolites (amino acids and phosphates) and enzyme cofactors (choline, thiamine, iron, manganese, and zinc), resist to organic solvent, heavy metal, and lipid-like drugs, maintain the composition of the outer membrane (OM), and secrete virulence factors. Although the features of most ABC systems could be deduced from the abundant experimental data on their orthologs, we reported several novel observations within ABC system proteins. Moreover, we identified seven nontransport ABC systems that are likely involved in virulence gene expression regulation, transposon excision regulation, and DNA repair. Our analysis reveals several candidates for further studies to understand and control the disease, including the type I virulence factor secretion system and its substrate that are likely related to Ca. L. asiaticus pathogenicity and the ABC transporter systems responsible for bacterial OM biosynthesis that are good drug targets.
genomic annotation; function prediction; ATPase; transmembrane protein; multiple sequence alignment; phylogenetic tree; protein homology; structure comparison
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus(Ca. L. asiaticus) is a Gram-negative bacterium and the pathogen of Citrus Greening disease (Huanglongbing, HLB). As a parasitic bacterium, Ca. L. asiaticus harbors ABC transporters that play important roles in exchanging chemical compounds between Ca. L. asiaticus and its host. Here we analyzed all the ABC transporter-related proteins in Ca. L. asiaticus. We identified 14 ABC transporter systems and predicted their structures and substrate specificities. In-depth sequence and structure analysis including multiple sequence alignment, phylogenetic tree reconstruction and structure comparison further support their function predictions. Our study shows that this bacterium could utilize these ABC transporters to import metabolites (amino acids and phosphates) and enzyme cofactors (choline, thiamine, iron, manganese and zinc), resist to organic solvent, heavy metal and lipid-like drugs, construct and maintain the composition of the outer membrane, and secrete virulence factors. While the features of most ABC systems could be deduced from the abundant experimental data on their orthologs, we reported several novel observations within ABC system proteins. Moreover, we identified seven non-transport ABC systems that are likely involved in virulence gene expression regulation, transposon excision regulation and DNA repair. Our analysis reveals several candidates for further studies to understand and control the disease, including the type I virulence factor secretion system and its substrate that are likely related to Ca. L. asiaticus pathogenicity, and the ABC transporter systems responsible for bacterial outer membrane biosynthesis that are good drug targets.
Genomic annotation; function prediction; ATPase; transmembrane protein; multiple sequence alignment; phylogenetic tree; protein homology; structure comparison
A new huanglongbing (HLB) “Candidatus Liberibacter” species is genetically characterized, and the bacterium is designated “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous.” This bacterium infects the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli and its solanaceous host plants potato and tomato, potentially resulting in “psyllid yellowing.” Host plant-dependent HLB transmission and variation in psyllid infection frequencies are found.
Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) is one of the most devastating diseases on citrus and is associated with Candidatus Liberibacter spp.. The pathogens are phloem limited and have not been cultured in vitro. The current management strategy of HLB is to remove infected citrus trees and reduce psyllid populations with insecticides to prevent the spreading. This strategy requires sensitive and reliable diagnostic methods for early detection.
We investigated the copy numbers of the 16S rDNA and 16S rRNA of the HLB pathogen and the implication of improving the diagnosis of HLB for early detection using Quantitative PCR. We compared the detection of HLB with different Quantitative PCR based methods with primers/probe targeting either 16S rDNA, beta-operon DNA, 16S rRNA, or beta-operon RNA. The 16S rDNA copy number of Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus was estimated to be three times of that of the beta-operon region, thus allowing detection of lower titer of Ca. L. asiaticus. Quantitative reverse transcriptional PCR (QRT-PCR) indicated that the 16S rRNA averaged 7.83 times more than that of 16S rDNA for the same samples. Dilution analysis also indicates that QRT-PCR targeting 16S rRNA is 10 time more sensitive than QPCR targeting 16S rDNA. Thus QRT-PCR was able to increase the sensitivity of detection by targeting 16S rRNA.
Our result indicates that Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus contains three copies of 16S rDNA. The copy number of 16S rRNA of Ca. L. asiaticus in planta averaged about 7.8 times of 16S rDNA for the same set of samples tested in this study. Detection sensitivity of HLB could be improved through the following approaches: using 16S rDNA based primers/probe in the QPCR assays; and using QRT-PCR assays targeting 16S rRNA.
Huanglongbing (yellow dragon disease) is a destructive disease of citrus. The etiological agent is a noncultured, phloem-restricted alpha-proteobacterium, “Candidatus Liberibacter africanus” in Africa and “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” in Asia. In this study, we used an omp-based PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) approach to analyze the genetic variability of “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” isolates. By using five different enzymes, each the 10 isolates tested could be associated with a specific combination of restriction profiles. The results indicate that the species “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus,” even within a given region, may comprise several different variants. Thus, omp-based PCR-RFLP analysis is a simple method for detecting and differentiating “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” isolates.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is the most destructive disease that affects citrus worldwide. The disease has been associated with Candidatus Liberibacter. HLB diseased citrus plants develop a multitude of symptoms including zinc and copper deficiencies, blotchy mottle, corky veins, stunting, and twig dieback. Ca. L. asiaticus infection also seriously affects the roots. Previous study focused on gene expression of leaves and fruit to Ca. L. asiaticus infection. In this study, we compared the gene expression levels of stems and roots of healthy plants with those in Ca. L. asiaticus infected plants using microarrays. Affymetrix microarray analysis showed a total of 988 genes were significantly altered in expression, of which 885 were in the stems, and 111 in the roots. Of these, 551 and 56 were up-regulated, while 334 and 55 were down-regulated in the stem and root samples of HLB diseased trees compared to healthy plants, respectively. Dramatic differences in the transcriptional responses were observed between citrus stems and roots to Ca. L. asiaticus infection, with only 8 genes affected in both the roots and stems. The affected genes are involved in diverse cellular functions, including carbohydrate metabolism, cell wall biogenesis, biotic and abiotic stress responses, signaling and transcriptional factors, transportation, cell organization, protein modification and degradation, development, hormone signaling, metal handling, and redox. Microscopy analysis showed the depletion of starch in the roots of the infected plants but not in healthy plants. Collapse and thickening of cell walls were observed in HLB affected roots, but not as severe as in the stems. This study provides insight into the host response of the stems and roots to Ca. L. asiaticus infection.
A phloem-limited bacterium, ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las) is a major pathogen of citrus greening (huanglongbing), one of the most destructive citrus diseases worldwide. The rapid identification and culling of infected trees and budwoods in quarantine are the most important control measures. DNA amplification including conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has commonly been used for rapid detection and identification. However, long and laborious procedures for DNA extraction have greatly reduced the applicability of this method. In this study, we found that the Las bacterial cells in the midribs of infected leaves were extracted rapidly and easily by pulverization and centrifugation with mini homogenization tubes. We also found that the Las bacterial cells in the midrib extract were suitable for highly sensitive direct PCR. The performance of direct PCR using this extraction method was not inferior to that of conventional PCR. Thus, the direct PCR method described herein is characterized by its simplicity, sensitivity, and robustness, and is applicable to quarantine testing.