First Report of the Causal Agent of Huanglongbing (“Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus”) Infecting Kumquat in Taiwan

Tsai et al. (2006). Plant Disease 90 (10)
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Agronomy and Crop Science Plant Science
Huanglongbing (greening) disease caused by a nonculturable, phloem-limited bacterium is a severe disease of citrus. On the basis of the influence of temperature on host symptoms and the causal agent, this disease can be categorized as Asian caused by “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus”, African caused by “Ca. L. africanus”, and American caused by “Ca. L. americanus”. Kumquat (Fortunella margarita (Lour.) Swingle), a member of the Rutaceae is an economically important crop for export and local consumption in Taiwan. Recently, a Huanglongbing-like disease was found on kumquat in Yilan County, the largest kumquat-producing area in northeastern Taiwan. Even though the disease has been reported on Citrus spp. from Taiwan, it has never been reported on kumquat. Symptoms of infected kumquat were mottling, yellowing, hardening, and curling of leaves followed by premature defoliation, twig dieback, decay of feeder rootlets and lateral roots, and ultimately the death of the entire plant. Typical sieve-tube-restricted bacteria were observed in kumquat cells by electron microscopy (1). In addition, psyllid-transmission tests demonstrated that the Asian psyllid (Diaphorina citri) could transmit this bacterium to healthy kumquats. Positive bud graft transmissions were obtained to F. margarita, F. japonica (Thunb.) Swingle, F. obovata Hort. ex Tanaka, Luchen sweet orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.), and Wentan pummelo (C. maxima f. sp. butan Hay.). These inoculated plants showed symptoms in 3 to 8 months, and bacteria could be detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using a common primer pair that amplified a 226-bp specific DNA fragment (2). For further molecular identification, the bacterial DNA was extracted from the inoculated plants and PCR was performed by using two sets of primers selected from the 16S rRNA region (GenBank Accession No. L22532) and 16S/23S intergenic spacer region (GenBank Accession No. AB019793). The expected DNA fragments of 1,389 bp and 862 bp were, respectively, amplified from symptomatic plants but not from healthy plants. The PCR products were cloned and sequenced (GenBank Accession Nos. DQ302750 and DQ207841). The 16S rRNA has 98 to 99% identity and 16S/23S intergenic spacer region has 99% identity to the corresponding region of “Ca. L. asiaticus” in GenBank. These molecular analyses confirm the presence of “Ca. L. asiaticus” in kumquat. Since Huanglongbing has been rarely reported naturally on kumquat, further analysis of this bacterium as a special strain of “Ca. L. asiaticus” is needed. References: (1) M. Garnier et al. Ann. Microbiol. 135A:169, 1984. (2) T. H. Hung et al. J. Phytopathol. 147:599, 1999.
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