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Graft Transmission Efficiencies and Multiplication of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter americanus’ and ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ in Citrus Plants

March 2009 , Volume 99 , Number  3
Pages  301 - 306

S. A. Lopes, E. Bertolini, G. F. Frare, E. C. Martins, N. A. Wulff, D. C. Teixeira, N. G. Fernandes, and M. Cambra

First, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh authors: Fundecitrus, Araraquara, São Paulo, 14807-040, Brazil; and second and eighth authors: Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias, Moncada, Valencia, 46113, Spain.

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Accepted for publication 27 November 2008.

In Brazil ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ and ‘Ca. L. americanus’ cause huanglongbing (also known as greening), the most destructive citrus disease. A shift in pathogen prevalence was observed over time, with a disproportional increase in ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ occurrence. Graft transmission experiments were used for a comparative study of both species using budsticks from symptomatic branches of field-affected trees as inoculum. The plants were inoculated with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ or ‘Ca. L. americanus’ alone, or simultaneously with both species. Symptom manifestation and conventional and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction were used for plant evaluations. ‘Ca. L. americanus’ was detected mainly in symptomatic plants and ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ was detected in symptomatic plants as well as in infected plants prior to symptom manifestation. Transmission percentages varied from 54.7 to 88.0% for ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ and 10.0 to 45.2% for ‘Ca. L. americanus’ in two experiments. In co-inoculated plants, 12.9% contained ‘Ca. L. americanus’ only, 40.3% contained ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ only, and 19.3% contained both species. Average bacterial titers for ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ and ‘Ca. L. americanus’, in log cells per gram of leaf midrib, were 6.42 and 4.87 for the experimental plants and 6.67 and 5.74 for the field trees used as the source of inoculum. The higher bacterial populations of the ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’-infected plants provided an explanation for the disproportional increase in field prevalence of this species over time, based on the greater likelihood for pathogen transmission by the insect vector.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society