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.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus is a fastidious, phloem-inhabiting, gram-negative bacterium transmitted by Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Psyllidae). The bacterium is the presumed causal agent of huanglongbing (HLB), one of the most destructive and economically important diseases of citrus. We investigated whether Las is transmitted between infected and uninfected D. citri adults during courtship. Our results indicate that Las was sexually transmitted from Las-infected male D. citri to uninfected females at a low rate (<4%) during mating. Sexual transmission was not observed following mating of infected females and uninfected males or among adult pairs of the same sex. Las was detected in genitalia of both sexes and also in eggs of infected females. A latent period of 7 days or more was required to detect the bacterium in recipient females. Rod shaped as well as spherical structures resembling Las were observed in ovaries of Las-infected females with transmission electron microscopy, but were absent in ovaries from uninfected D. citri females. The size of the rod shaped structures varied from 0.39 to 0.67 µm in length and 0.19 to 0.39 µm in width. The spherical structures measured from 0.61 to 0.80 µm in diameter. This investigation provides convincing evidence that a plant pathogenic bacterium is sexually transmitted from male to female insects during courtship and established evidence that bacteria persist in reproductive organs. Moreover, these findings provide an alternative sexually horizontal mechanism for the spread of Las within populations of D. citri, even in the absence of infected host trees.
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.
Some plant pathogens form obligate relationships with their insect vector and are vertically transmitted via eggs analogous to insect endosymbionts. Whether insect endosymbionts manipulate plant defenses to benefit their insect host remains unclear. The tomato psyllid, Bactericerca cockerelli (Sulc), vectors the endosymbiont “Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous” (Lps) during feeding on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Lps titer in psyllids varied relative to the psyllid developmental stage with younger psyllids harboring smaller Lps populations compared to older psyllids. In the present study, feeding by different life stages of B. cockerelli infected with Lps, resulted in distinct tomato transcript profiles. Feeding by young psyllid nymphs, with lower Lps levels, induced tomato genes regulated by jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid (SA) (Allene oxide synthase, Proteinase inhibitor 2, Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase 5, Pathogenesis-related protein 1) compared to feeding by older nymphs and adults, where higher Lps titers were found. In addition, inoculation of Lps without insect hosts suppressed accumulation of these defense transcripts. Collectively, these data suggest that the endosymbiont-like pathogen Lps manipulates plant signaling and defensive responses to benefit themselves and the success of their obligate insect vector on their host plant.
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
Although bacterial endosymbioses are common among phloeophagous herbivores, little is known regarding the effects of symbionts on herbivore host selection and population dynamics. We tested the hypothesis that plant selection and reproductive performance by a phloem-feeding herbivore (potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli) is mediated by infection of plants with a bacterial endosymbiont. We controlled for the effects of herbivory and endosymbiont infection by exposing potato plants (Solanum tuberosum) to psyllids infected with “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum” or to uninfected psyllids. We used these treatments as a basis to experimentally test plant volatile emissions, herbivore settling and oviposition preferences, and herbivore population growth. Three important findings emerged: (1) plant volatile profiles differed with respect to both herbivory and herbivory plus endosymbiont infection when compared to undamaged control plants; (2) herbivores initially settled on plants exposed to endosymbiont-infected psyllids but later defected and oviposited primarily on plants exposed only to uninfected psyllids; and (3) plant infection status had little effect on herbivore reproduction, though plant flowering was associated with a 39% reduction in herbivore density on average. Our experiments support the hypothesis that plant infection with endosymbionts alters plant volatile profiles, and infected plants initially recruited herbivores but later repelled them. Also, our findings suggest that the endosymbiont may not place negative selection pressure on its host herbivore in this system, but plant flowering phenology appears correlated with psyllid population performance.
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.
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.
Plant pathogens and insect herbivores are prone to share hosts under natural conditions. Consequently, pathogen-induced changes in the host plant can affect herbivory, and vice versa. Even though plant viruses are ubiquitous in the field, little is known about plant-mediated interactions between viruses and non-vectoring herbivores. We investigated the effects of virus infection on subsequent infestation by a non-vectoring herbivore in a natural genotype of Trifolium repens (white clover). We tested whether infection with White clover mosaic virus (WClMV) alters (1) the effects of fungus gnat feeding on plant growth, (2) the attractiveness of white clover for adult fungus gnat females, and (3) the volatile emission of white clover plants. We observed only marginal effects of WClMV infection on the interaction between fungus gnat larvae and white clover. However, adult fungus gnat females clearly preferred non-infected over WClMV-infected plants. Non-infected and virus-infected plants could easily be discriminated based on their volatile blends, suggesting that the preference of fungus gnats for non-infected plants may be mediated by virus-induced changes in volatile emissions. The compound β-caryophyllene was exclusively detected in the headspace of virus-infected plants and may hence be particularly important for the preference of fungus gnat females. Our results demonstrate that WClMV infection can decrease the attractiveness of white clover plants for fungus gnat females. This suggests that virus infections may contribute to protecting their hosts by decreasing herbivore infestation rates. Consequently, it is conceivable that viruses play a more beneficial role in plant–herbivore interactions than generally thought.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00442-012-2322-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Pathogens; Three-way interactions; Trifolium repens; Volatiles; White clover mosaic virus
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
Plant volatiles include terpenoids, which are generally involved in plant defense, repelling pests and pathogens and attracting insects for herbivore control, pollination and seed dispersal. Orange fruits accumulate the monoterpene limonene at high levels in the oil glands of their fruit peels. When limonene production was downregulated in orange fruits by the transgenic expression of a limonene synthase (CitMTSE1) in the antisense configuration, these fruits were resistant to the fungus Penicillium digitatum (Pers.) Sacc. and the bacterium Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri and were less attractive to the medfly pest Ceratitis capitata. These responses were reversed when the antisense transgenic orange fruits were treated with limonene. To gain more insight into the role of the limonene concentration in fruit responses to pests and pathogens, we attempted to overexpress CitMTSE1 in the sense configuration in transgenic orange fruits. Only slight increases in the amount of limonene were found in sense transgenic fruits, maybe due to the detrimental effect that excessive limonene accumulation would have on plant development. Collectively, these results suggest that when limonene reaches peak levels as the fruit develops, it becomes a signal for pest and pathogen attraction, which facilitate access to the fruit for pulp consumers and seed dispersers.
co-evolution; defense; repellency; secondary metabolism; seed dispersers; trophic interaction; volatiles
Plant chemicals mediating interactions with insect herbivores seem a likely target for manipulation by insectvectored plant pathogens. Yet, little is currently known about the chemical ecology of insect-vectored diseases or their effects on the ecology of vector and nonvector insects. We recently reported that a widespread plant pathogen, Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), greatly reduces the quality of host-plants (squash) for aphid vectors, but that aphids are nevertheless attracted to the odors of infected plants—which exhibit elevated emissions of a volatile blend otherwise similar to the odor of healthy plants. This finding suggests that exaggerating existing host-location cues can be a viable vector attraction strategy for pathogens that otherwise reduce host quality for vectors. Here we report additional data regarding the effects of CMV infection on plant interactions with a common nonvector herbivore, the squash bug, Anasa tristis, which is a pest in this system. We found that adult A. tristis females preferred to oviposit on healthy plants in the field, and that healthy plants supported higher populations of nymphs. Collectively, our recent findings suggest that CMV-induced changes in host plant chemistry influence the behavior of both vector and non-vector herbivores, with significant implications both for disease spread and for broader community-level interactions.
vector behavior; Cucumber mosaic virus; volatiles; parasite manipulation; Anasa tristis; Cucurbita pepo
Inbreeding is common in flowering plants, but relatively few studies have examined its effects on interactions between plants and other organisms, such as herbivores and pathogens. In a recent paper, we documented effects of inbreeding depression on plant volatile signaling phenotypes, including elevated constitutive volatile emissions (and consequently greater herbivore recruitment to inbred plants) but reduced emission of key herbivore-induced volatiles that attract predatory and parasitic insects to damaged plants. While the effects of inbreeding on plant-insect interactions have been explored in only a few systems, even less is known about its effects on plant-pathogen interactions. Here we report the effects of inbreeding on horsenettle susceptibility to powdery mildew (Oidium neolycopersici), including more rapid onset of infection in inbred plants, particularly when plants were not previously damaged. These data suggest that inbreeding may increase plant susceptibility to pathogen infection and, therefore, may potentially facilitate pathogen establishment in natural populations.
Solanum carolinense; herbivory; inbreeding; pathogen; powdery mildew; resistance
Huanglongbing (HLB) is presently the most devastating citrus disease worldwide. As an intracellular plant pathogen and insect symbiont, the HLB bacterium, ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (Las), retains the entire flagellum-encoding gene cluster in its significantly reduced genome. Las encodes a flagellin and hook-associated protein (Fla) of 452 amino acids that contains a conserved 22 amino acid domain (flg22) at positions 29 to 50 in the N-terminus. The phenotypic alteration in motility of a Sinorhizobium meliloti mutant lacking the fla genes was partially restored by constitutive expression of FlaLas. Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression in planta revealed that FlaLas induced cell death and callose deposition in Nicotiana benthamiana, and that the transcription of BAK1 and SGT1, which are associated with plant innate immunity, was upregulated. Amino acid substitution experiments revealed that residues 38 (serine) and 39 (aspartate) of FlaLas were essential for callose induction. The synthetic flg22Las peptide could not induce plant cell death but retained the ability to induce callose deposition at a concentration of 20 µM or above. This demonstrated that the pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) activity of flg22 in Las was weaker than those in other well-studied plant pathogenic bacteria. These results indicate that FlaLas acts as a PAMP and may play an important role in triggering host plant resistance to the HLB bacteria.
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.
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.
Weeds are important in the ecology of field crops, and when crops are harvested, weeds often become the main hosts for plant viruses and their insect vectors. Few studies, however, have examined the relationships between plant viruses, vectors, and weeds. Here, we investigated how infection of the weed Datura stramonium L. by tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) affects the host preference and performance of the TYLCV vector, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) Q. The results of a choice experiment indicated that B. tabaci Q preferentially settled and oviposited on TYLCV-infected plants rather than on healthy plants. In addition, B. tabaci Q performed better on TYLCV-infected plants than on healthy plants. These results demonstrate that TYLCV is indirectly mutualistic to B. tabaci Q. The mutually beneficial interaction between TYLCV and B. tabaci Q may help explain the concurrent outbreaks of TYLCV and B. tabaci Q in China.
Pathogens and parasites can induce changes in host or vector behavior that enhance their transmission. In plant systems, such effects are largely restricted to vectors, because they are mobile and may exhibit preferences dependent upon plant host infection status. Here we report the first evidence that acquisition of a plant virus directly alters host selection behavior by its insect vector. We show that the aphid Rhopalosiphum padi, after acquiring Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) during in vitro feeding, prefers noninfected wheat plants, while noninfective aphids also fed in vitro prefer BYDV-infected plants. This behavioral change should promote pathogen spread since noninfective vector preference for infected plants will promote acquisition, while infective vector preference for noninfected hosts will promote transmission. We propose the “Vector Manipulation Hypothesis” to explain the evolution of strategies in plant pathogens to enhance their spread to new hosts. Our findings have implications for disease and vector management.
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.
The plant-pathogenic bacterium Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri is the causal agent of Asiatic citrus canker, a serious disease that affects all the cultivars of citrus in subtropical citrus-producing areas worldwide. There is no curative treatment for citrus canker; thus, the eradication of infected plants constitutes the only effective control of the spread of X. citri subsp. citri. Since the eradication program in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, is under threat, there is a clear risk of X. citri subsp. citri becoming endemic in the main orange-producing area in the world. Here we evaluated the potential use of alkyl gallates to prevent X. citri subsp. citri growth. These esters displayed a potent anti-X. citri subsp. citri activity similar to that of kanamycin (positive control), as evaluated by the resazurin microtiter assay (REMA). The treatment of X. citri subsp. citri cells with these compounds induced altered cell morphology, and investigations of the possible intracellular targets using X. citri subsp. citri strains labeled for the septum and centromere pointed to a common target involved in chromosome segregation and cell division. Finally, the artificial inoculation of citrus with X. citri subsp. citri cells pretreated with alkyl gallates showed that the bacterium loses the ability to colonize its host, which indicates the potential of these esters to protect citrus plants against X. citri subsp. citri infection.
Plants produce specific volatile organic compound (VOC) blends in response to herbivory. Herbivore-induced blends may prime the plant for future attack or attract carnivorous insects; these responses have been considered adaptive for plants. If herbivores differentially modify the VOC emission among individuals within a group of plants they feed upon, then plant responses to herbivores will not only produce specific blends but also variation in odor among individuals, i.e. individuals smell the same, then having a uniform odor. We investigated the VOC emission variation or uniformity among tomato individuals (Solanum lycopersicum L. cv. Castlemart) in response to moderate wounding by (1) nymphs of the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Sulc.) (TP); (2) Lepidoptera chewing-feeding larvae of Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda Smith) (FAW) and (3) of Cabbage Looper (Trichoplusia ni Hübner) (CL), and (4) mechanical damage (MD). We used a ratio-based analysis to compare the fold-change in concentration from constitutive to induced VOC emission. We also used size and shape analysis to compare the emission of damaged and non-damaged individuals. Aside of finding herbivore-specific blends in line with other studies, we found patterns not described previously. We detected constitutive and induced odor variation among individuals attacked by the same herbivore, with the induced odor uniformity depending on the herbivore identity. We also showed that the fold-change of VOCs from constitutive to induced state differed among individuals independently of the uniformity of the blends before herbivore attack. We discuss our findings in the context of the ecological roles of VOCs in plant-plant and plant-carnivore insects’ interactions.
The potato/tomato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli (B. cockerelli), is an important plant pest and the vector of the phloem-limited bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter psyllaurous (solanacearum), which is associated with the zebra chip disease of potatoes. Previously, we reported induction of RNA interference effects in B. cockerelli via in vitro-prepared dsRNA/siRNAs after intrathoracic injection, and after feeding of artificial diets containing these effector RNAs. In order to deliver RNAi effectors via plant hosts and to rapidly identify effective target sequences in plant-feeding B. cockerelli, here we developed a plant virus vector-based in planta system for evaluating candidate sequences. We show that recombinant Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) containing B. cockerelli sequences can efficiently infect and generate small interfering RNAs in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants, and more importantly delivery of interfering sequences via TMV induces RNAi effects, as measured by actin and V-ATPase mRNA reductions, in B. cockerelli feeding on these plants. RNAi effects were primarily detected in the B. cockerelli guts. In contrast to our results with TMV, recombinant Potato virus X (PVX) and Tobacco rattle virus (TRV) did not give robust infections in all plants and did not induce detectable RNAi effects in B. cockerelli. The greatest RNA interference effects were observed when B. cockerelli nymphs were allowed to feed on leaf discs collected from inoculated or lower expanded leaves from corresponding TMV-infected plants. Tomatillo plants infected with recombinant TMV containing B. cockerelli actin or V-ATPase sequences also showed phenotypic effects resulting in decreased B. cockerelli progeny production as compared to plants infected by recombinant TMV containing GFP. These results showed that RNAi effects can be achieved in plants against the phloem feeder, B. cockerelli, and the TMV-plant system will provide a faster and more convenient method for screening of suitable RNAi target sequences in planta.
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.
Plant volatiles play an important role in defending plants against insect attacks by attracting their natural enemies. For example, green leaf volatiles (GLVs) and terpenoids emitted from herbivore-damaged plants were found to be important in the host location of parasitic wasps. However, evidence of the functional roles and mechanisms of these semio-chemicals from a system of multiple plants in prey location by the parasitoid is limited. Little is known about the potential evolutionary trends between herbivore-induced host plant volatiles and the host location of their parasitoids.
The present study includes hierarchical cluster analyses of plant volatile profiles from seven families of host and non-host plants of pea leafminer, Liriomyza huidobrensis, and behavioral responses of a naive parasitic wasp, Opius dissitus, to some principal volatile compounds. Here we show that plants can effectively pull wasps, O. dissitus, towards them by releasing a universally induced compound, (Z)-3-hexenol, and potentially keep these plants safe from parasitic assaults by leafminer pests, L. huidobrensis. Specifically, we found that volatile profiles from healthy plants revealed a partly phylogenetic signal, while the inducible compounds of the infested-plants did not result from the fact that the induced plant volatiles dominate most of the volatile blends of the host and non-host plants of the leafminer pests. We further show that the parasitoids are capable of distinguishing the damaged host plant from the non-host plant of the leafminers.
Our results suggest that, as the most passive scenario of plant involvement, leafminers and mechanical damages evoke similar semio-chemicals. Using ubiquitous compounds, such as hexenol, for host location by general parasitoids could be an adaptation of the most conservative evolution of tritrophic interaction. Although for this, other compounds may be used to improve the precision of the host location by the parasitoids.
Zebra complex (ZC) disease on potatoes is associated with Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLs), an α-proteobacterium that resides in the plant phloem and is transmitted by the potato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli (Šulc). The name ZC originates from the brown striping in fried chips of infected tubers, but the whole plants also exhibit a variety of morphological features and symptoms for which the physiological or molecular basis are not understood. We determined that compared to healthy plants, stems of ZC-plants accumulate starch and more than three-fold total protein, including gene expression regulatory factors (e.g. cyclophilin) and tuber storage proteins (e.g., patatins), indicating that ZC-affected stems are reprogrammed to exhibit tuber-like physiological properties. Furthermore, the total phenolic content in ZC potato stems was elevated two-fold, and amounts of polyphenol oxidase enzyme were also high, both serving to explain the ZC-hallmark rapid brown discoloration of air-exposed damaged tissue. Newly developed quantitative and/or conventional PCR demonstrated that the percentage of psyllids in laboratory colonies containing detectable levels of CLs and its titer could fluctuate over time with effects on colony prolificacy, but presumed reproduction-associated primary endosymbiont levels remained stable. Potato plants exposed in the laboratory to psyllid populations with relatively low-CLs content survived while exposure of plants to high-CLs psyllids rapidly culminated in a lethal collapse. In conclusion, we identified plant physiological biomarkers associated with the presence of ZC and/or CLs in the vegetative potato plant tissue and determined that the titer of CLs in the psyllid population directly affects the rate of disease development in plants.