Endophytes and Plant Extracts as Potential Antimicrobial Agents against Candidatus Liberibacter Asiaticus, Causal Agent of Huanglongbing

Dominguez et al. (2023). Microorganisms 11 (6)
Names (2)
Liberibacter Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Microbiology Microbiology (medical) Virology
Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, is an insidious disease in citrus and has become a threat to the sustainability of the citrus industry worldwide. In the U.S., Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) is the pathogen that is associated with HLB, an unculturable, phloem-limited bacteria, vectored by the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP, Diaphorina citri). There is no known cure nor treatment to effectively control HLB, and current control methods are primarily based on the use of insecticides and antibiotics, where effectiveness is limited and may have negative impacts on beneficial and non-target organisms. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of effective and sustainable treatment options to reduce or eliminate CLas from infected trees. In the present study, we screened citrus-derived endophytes, their cell-free culture supernatants (CFCS), and crude plant extracts for antimicrobial activity against two culturable surrogates of CLas, Sinorhizobium meliloti and Liberibacter crescens. Candidates considered high-potential antimicrobial agents were assessed directly against CLas in vitro, using a propidium monoazide–based assay. As compared to the negative controls, statistically significant reductions of viable CLas cells were observed for each of the five bacterial CFCS. Subsequent 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that each of the five bacterial isolates were most closely related to Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, a species dominating the market of biological control products. As such, the aboveground endosphere of asymptomatic survivor citrus trees, grown in an organic orchard, were found to host bacterial endophytes capable of effectively disrupting CLas cell membranes. These results concur with the theory that native members of the citrus microbiome play a role in the development of HLB. Here, we identify five strains of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens demonstrating notable potential to be used as sources of novel antimicrobials for the sustainable management of HLB.
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