Grove-level analysis of titer and prevalence of “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” and Wolbachia in Diaphorina citri, vector of citrus Huanglongbing

Mann et al. (2024). Phytobiomes Journal
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Agronomy and Crop Science Ecology Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics Molecular Biology Plant Science
Huanglongbing (HLB, or citrus greening disease) affects all citrus varieties world-wide. In the USA, Asia, and South America the causal agent is “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” (CLas), a phloem-limited, uncultured, alphaproteobacterium. The hemipteran insect vector, Diaphorina citri (Asian citrus psyllid) acquires and transmits CLas in a circulative, propagative manner. In addition to CLas, D. citri hosts multiple symbiotic bacterial species including Wolbachia (wDi). In D. citri, wDi has been sequenced and studied but specific roles in D. citri biology are unknown. Using well-established quantitative PCR methods we measured CLas titer in D. citri collected from four groves in central Florida with distinct HLB management strategies and tested whether CLas and wDi titer were correlated in a sub-set of these insects. Grove site had the largest effect on CLas titer. Sex had no effect on CLas titer, while higher wDi titer was correlated with non-infected insects. Our results suggest that more directed follow-up research is necessary and important to clarify whether field management tactics influence CLas titer in D. citri and to better understand gene-by-environment interactions among D. citri, wDi and CLas. Now that millions of trees in Florida have been treated with injectable formulations of oxytetracycline, which may decrease bacterial populations in D. citri, this study may represent the last biologically meaningful snapshot of grove-level vector-pathogen ecology in the state during the HLB epidemic.
Publication date