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Oral: Novel Applications of Whole Genome Sequencing and Bioinformatics in Microbial Forensics and Agricultural Biosecurity


Metabolomics in Microbial Forensics: The example of Citrus Greening Disease in Florida.
J. REYES DE CORCUERA (1) (1) Department of Food Science & Technology, University of Georgia, U.S.A.

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Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) is arguably the greatest threat that US citriculture has faced in its history. First detected in Florida in 2005, HLB, presumably caused by the fastidious bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) has spread to all citrus-producing counties, vectored by a psyllid (Diaphorina citri) that feeds on the phloem from the plant leaves. This disease is the main contributor to the decrease in citrus production which was 50% lower in 2014/15 than 10 years earlier. Vector and pathogen have been intensively researched in the last 10 years to address the spread, develop management strategies and a cure. Challenges include early detection, understanding movement of the pathogen and the evolution of the disease in planta, developing strategies for treatment, and documenting the impact of the disease in the product quality prior to the complete decline of infected trees. Metabolomics has offered relevant insights into each of these challenge areas. Here we discuss the lessons learned from building a metabolomics laboratory form scratch and reflect on the complexity of the plant-pathogen interactions, the environmental factors that affect its metabolism and our ability to detect CLas.