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Novel Diagnosis for Citrus Stubborn Disease by Detection of a Spiroplasma citri-Secreted Protein

February 2014 , Volume 104 , Number  2
Pages  188 - 195

Jinxia Shi, Deborah Pagliaccia, Robyn Morgan, Yongli Qiao, Songqin Pan, Georgios Vidalakis, and Wenbo Ma

First, second, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and fourth, fifth, and seventh authors: Center for Plant Cell Biology, University of California, Riverside 92521.

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Accepted for publication 1 August 2013.

Citrus stubborn disease (CSD), first identified in California, is a widespread bacterial disease found in most arid citrus-producing regions in the United States and the Mediterranean Region. The disease is caused by Spiroplasma citri, an insect-transmitted and phloem-colonizing bacterium. CSD causes significant tree damage resulting in loss of fruit production and quality. Detection of CSD is challenging due to low and fluctuating titer and sporadic distribution of the pathogen in infected trees. In this study, we report the development of a novel diagnostic method for CSD using an S. citri-secreted protein as the detection marker. Microbial pathogens secrete a variety of proteins during infection that can potentially disperse systemically in infected plants with the vascular flow. Therefore, their distribution may not be restricted to the pathogen infection sites and could be used as a biological marker for infection. Using mass spectrometry analysis, we identified a unique secreted protein from S. citri that is highly expressed in the presence of citrus phloem extract. ScCCPP1, an antibody generated against this protein, was able to distinguish S. citri-infected citrus and periwinkle from healthy plants. In addition, the antiserum could be used to detect CSD using a simple direct tissue print assay without the need for sample processing or specialized lab equipment and may be suitable for field surveys. This study provides proof of a novel concept of using pathogen-secreted protein as a marker for diagnosis of a citrus bacterial disease and can probably be applied to other plant diseases.

Additional keywords:bacterial pathogens, effectors.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society