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Viability of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ Prolonged by Addition of Citrus Juice to Culture Medium

January 2014 , Volume 104 , Number  1
Pages  15 - 26

Jennifer K. Parker, Sarah R. Wisotsky, Evan G. Johnson, Faraj M. Hijaz, Nabil Killiny, Mark E. Hilf, and Leonardo De La Fuente

First and seventh authors: Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, and second author: Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL; third, fourth, and fifth authors: Citrus Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Lake Alfred, FL; and sixth author: U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, Fort Pierce, FL.

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Accepted for publication 2 July 2013.

Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, is associated with infection by the phloem-limited bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’. Infection with ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ is incurable; therefore, knowledge regarding ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ biology and pathogenesis is essential to develop a treatment. However, ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ cannot currently be successfully cultured, limiting its study. To gain insight into the conditions conducive for growth of ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ in vitro, ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ inoculum obtained from seed of fruit from infected pomelo trees (Citrus maxima ‘Mato Buntan’) was added to different media, and cell viability was monitored for up to 2 months using quantitative polymerase chain reaction in conjunction with ethidium monoazide. Media tested included one-third King's B (K), K with 50% juice from the infected fruit, K with 50% commercially available grapefruit juice, and 100% commercially available grapefruit juice. Results show that juice-containing media dramatically prolong viability compared with K in experiments reproduced during 2 years using different juice sources. Furthermore, biofilm formed at the air–liquid interface of juice cultures contained ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ cells, though next-generation sequencing indicated that other bacterial genera were predominant. Chemical characterization of the media was conducted to discuss possible factors sustaining ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’ viability in vitro, which will contribute to future development of a culture medium for ‘Ca. L. asiaticus’.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society