The plant pathogenic bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum induces calcium-regulated autophagy in midgut cells of its insect vector Bactericera trigonica

Sarkar et al. (2023). Microbiology Spectrum 11 (5)
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Cell Biology Ecology General Immunology and Microbiology Genetics Infectious Diseases Microbiology (medical) Physiology
ABSTRACT Autophagy plays an important role against pathogen infection in many organisms; however, little has been done with regard to vector-borne plant and animal pathogens, that sometimes replicate and cause deleterious effects in their vectors. Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso) is a fastidious gram-negative phloem-restricted plant pathogen and vectored by the carrot psyllid, Bactericera trigonica . The plant disease caused by this bacterium is called carrot yellows and has recently gained much importance due to worldwide excessive economical losses. Here, we demonstrate that calcium ATPase, cytosolic calcium, and most importantly Beclin-1 have a role in regulating autophagy and its association with Liberibacter inside the psyllid. The presence of CLso generates reactive oxygen species and induces the expression of detoxification enzymes in the psyllid midguts, a main site for bacteria transmission. CLso also induces the expression of both sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+pump (SERCA) and 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (ITPR) in midguts, resulting in high levels of calcium in the cellular cytosol. Silencing these genes individually disrupted the calcium levels in the cytosol and resulted in direct effects on autophagy and subsequently on Liberibacter persistence and transmission. Inhibiting Beclin1-phosphorylation through different calcium-induced kinases altered the expression of autophagy and CLso titers and persistence. Based on our results obtained from the midgut, we suggest the existence of a direct correlation between cytosolic calcium levels, autophagy, and CLso persistence and transmission by the carrot psyllid. IMPORTANCE Plant diseases caused by vector-borne Liberibacter species are responsible for the most important economic losses in many agricultural sectors. Preventing these diseases relies mostly on chemical sprays against the insect vectors. Knowledge-based interference with the bacteria-vector interaction remains a promising approach as a sustainable solution. For unravelling how Liberibacter exploits molecular pathways in its insect vector for transmission, here, we show that the bacterium manipulates calcium levels on both sides of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, resulting in manipulating autophagy. Silencing genes associated with these pathways disrupted the calcium levels in the cytosol and resulted in direct effects on autophagy and Liberibacter transmission. These results demonstrate major pathways that could be exploited for manipulating and controlling the disease transmission.
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