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Response of Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) to ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ Infection: Microscopy and Microarray Analyses

January 2009 , Volume 99 , Number  1
Pages  50 - 57

Jeong-Soon Kim, Uma Shankar Sagaram, Jacqueline K. Burns, Jian-Liang Li, and Nian Wang

First, second, third, and fifth authors: Citrus Research and Education Center, University of Florida, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred 33850; fourth author: Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610; and fifth author: Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611.

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Accepted for publication 29 September 2008.

Citrus greening or huanglongbing (HLB) is a devastating disease of citrus. HLB is associated with the phloem-limited fastidious prokaryotic α-proteobacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter spp.’ In this report, we used sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) leaf tissue infected with ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ and compared this with healthy controls. Investigation of the host response was examined with citrus microarray hybridization based on 33,879 expressed sequence tag sequences from several citrus species and hybrids. The microarray analysis indicated that HLB infection significantly affected expression of 624 genes whose encoded proteins were categorized according to function. The categories included genes associated with sugar metabolism, plant defense, phytohormone, and cell wall metabolism, as well as 14 other gene categories. The anatomical analyses indicated that HLB bacterium infection caused phloem disruption, sucrose accumulation, and plugged sieve pores. The up-regulation of three key starch biosynthetic genes including ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase, starch synthase, granule-bound starch synthase and starch debranching enzyme likely contributed to accumulation of starch in HLB-affected leaves. The HLB-associated phloem blockage resulted from the plugged sieve pores rather than the HLB bacterial aggregates since ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ does not form aggregate in citrus. The up-regulation of pp2 gene is related to callose deposition to plug the sieve pores in HLB-affected plants.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society