L. Matos, Instituto Dominicano de Investigaciones Agropecuarias y Forestales, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic;
M. E. Hilf, USDA-ARS-U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, Fort Pierce, FL; and
J. Camejo, Instituto Dominicano de Investigaciones Agropecuarias y Forestales, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
In August 2008, unusual symptoms were observed in Mexican lime trees (Citrus aurantifolia (Christm.) Swing) in the municipality of Luperón, province of Puerto Plata on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Symptoms observed in young and old trees included blotchy mottle on leaves, healthy-appearing larger branches with smaller side branches that displayed chlorotic leaves, abscised and lopsided fruit, and branch dieback, all symptoms similar to those of citrus huanglongbing associated with ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ spp. (1). Symptoms were observed in an area of ~100 ha surrounding Luperón, where Mexican lime trees were grown as seedlings and no commercial plantings of other citrus were present. Symptomatic leaves were collected from 16 trees in September 2008, and DNA was extracted from petioles and midveins with a DNeasy kit (Qiagen, Gaithersburg, MD) or with chloroform/isoamyl alcohol (24:1). Real-time PCR with the16S rDNA primer/probe set specific to ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ and performed as described (2) gave Ct values comparable with the positive control for five samples. Conventional PCR with the forward (5′-tcgagcgcgtatgcaatacg-3′) and reverse (5′-ctacctttttctacgggataacgc-3′) primers used in real-time PCR (2) amplified a 75-bp product from these five samples. Eleven to twelve clones were sequenced from each sample and BLAST analysis of a consensus sequence for each sample (GenBank Accession Nos. FJ489643--FJ489647) showed 98% (e.g., EU921622, EU921618) to 100% identity (e.g., FJ236554, FJ263702) with 16S rDNA sequences of ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’. A larger 912-bp portion of the 16S rDNA gene was amplified from each sample by conventional PCR with sense (5′-gagcctaccaaggctacgat-3′) and antisense (5′-gcgttatcccgtagaaaaaggtag-3′) primers designed from the sequence of ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ strain LJZ-4730 (GenBank Accession No. FJ263700). Nine to twelve clones were sequenced for each sample and BLAST analysis of a consensus sequence for each sample (GenBank Accession Nos. FJ811891--FJ811895) showed 100% identity to ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ (DQ471900, DQ4719010) from Florida and Brazil, respectively. To confirm this identification, 693 bp of the outer membrane protein gene (omp) were amplified from each of the five positive samples by conventional PCR using sense (5′-gtgattctgagggtgagcg-3′) and antisense (5′-cgaactcactgagaactgatc-3′) primers designed from nucleotides 15 to 33 and 687 to 707, respectively, of the omp gene from ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ strain MZ (GenBank Accession No. EF580135). The consensus sequences from 12 clones from each sample (GenBank Accession Nos. FJ489638--FJ489642) showed 99% (e.g., FJ236564, AY842429) to 100% (e.g., FJ236566, EF580135) nucleotide identity and the predicted translation product showed 100% amino acid identity (e.g., AAX47433, AAX47431) with the omp gene from ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’. These results confirm the presence of and to our knowledge, this is the first report of ‘Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus’ in the Dominican Republic. Huanglongbing is a destructive disease of citrus (1) and its spread is expected to adversely affect citrus production in the Dominican Republic with subsequent negative effects predicted for the employment of thousands of people.
References: (1) J. M. Bové, J. Plant Pathol. 88:7, 2006. (2) W. Li et al. J. Microbiol. Methods 66:104, 2006.