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Deciphering the Dynamics of the Citrus Microbiome

Nichole Ginnan: University of California, Riverside

<div>The plant microbiome is an interactive cross-organismal community that influences host productivity, development, and tolerance to stresses. Shifts in the structure of the citrus microbiome that are related to season and plant development are not fully understood. We hypothesize that host phenology and grove management strategies can regulate citrus microbial community dynamics. To test this hypothesis, we are profiling the microbiome of California citrus trees under organic and conventional management. Furthermore, our sampling times mirror key stages in citrus phenology, including: sprouting initiation(flush), flower initiation, full flowering, fruit setting, fruit development, color breaking, and mature fruit. In parallel, using a reductionist approach, we are utilizing gnotobiotic citrus plants to investigate the interactions of individual citrus microbiota in more detail, particularly, in the context of microbial partitioning to specific plant compartments. Additionally, our grove sampling locations include geographical areas of California that have been exposed to the invasive Asian Citrus psyllid, the vector for the Huanglongbing (HLB) associated bacterium, <em>Candidatus </em>Liberibacter asiaticus (<em>C</em>Las), for varying lengths of time. As HLB incidences increase in these areas, we hypothesize that it will be possible to capture critical shifts in the native citrus microbiome as an invasive pathogen becomes established in a given area.</div>