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A Graft-Based Chemotherapy Method for Screening Effective Molecules and Rescuing Huanglongbing-Affected Citrus Plants

June 2012 , Volume 102 , Number  6
Pages  567 - 574

Muqing Zhang, Charles A. Powell, Ying Guo, Melissa S. Doud, and Yongping Duan

First author: IFAS-IRREC, University of Florida, Fort Pierce 34945, and Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, Fuzhou, 350002, China; second and third authors: IFAS-IRREC, University of Florida, Fort Pierce 34945; and fourth and fifth authors: Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, USHRL, Fort Pierce, FL 34945.

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Accepted for publication 29 February 2012.

Huanglongbing (HLB) is the most devastating disease of citrus. The global citrus industry is in urgent need of effective chemical treatments for HLB control because of its rapid spreading worldwide. Due to the fastidious nature of the pathogens, and the poor permissibility of citrus leaf surfaces, effective screening of chemicals for the HLB control can be challenging. In this study, we developed a graft-based chemotherapy method to rapidly screen potential HLB-controlling chemical compounds. In addition, we improved transmission efficiency by using the best HLB-affected scion–rootstock combination, and demonstrated the HLB bacterial titer was the critical factor in transmission. The HLB-affected lemon scions had a high titer of HLB bacterium, survival rate (83.3%), and pathogen transmission rate (59.9%). Trifoliate, a widely used commercial rootstock, had the highest survival rate (>70.0%) compared with grapefruit (52.6%) and sour orange (50.4%). Using this method, we confirmed a mixture of penicillin and streptomycin was the most effective compounds in eliminating the HLB bacterium from the HLB-affected scions, and in successfully rescuing severely HLB-affected citrus germplasms. These findings are useful not only for chemical treatments but also for graft-based transmission studies in HLB and other Liberibacter diseases.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society