Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2015) 81, 364-372

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Wei Zhao, Jinhe Bai, Greg McCollum and Elizabeth Baldwin (2015)
High incidence of preharvest colonization of huanglongbing-symptomatic Citrus sinensis fruit by Lasiodiplodia theobromae (Diplodia natalensis) and exacerbation of postharvest fruit decay by that fungus
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81 (1), 364-372
Abstract: Huanglongbing (HLB), presumably caused by the bacterium "Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus," is a devastating citrus disease associated with excessive preharvest fruit drop. Lasiodiplodia theobromae (diplodia) is the causal organism of citrus stem end rot (SER). The pathogen infects citrus fruit under the calyx abscission zone (AZ-C) and is associated with cell wall hydrolytic enzymes similar to plant enzymes involved in abscission. By means of DNA sequencing, diplodia was found in "Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus"-positive juice from HLB-symptomatic fruit (S) but not in "Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus"-negative juice. Therefore, the incidence of diplodia in fruit tissues, the impact on HLB-related postharvest decay, and the implications for HLB-related preharvest fruit drop were investigated in Hamlin and Valencia oranges. Quantitative PCR results (qPCR) revealed a significantly (P < 0.001) greater incidence of diplodia in the AZ-C of HLB-symptomatic (S; "Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus" threshold cycle [CT] of <30) than in the AZ-C of in asymptomatic (AS; "Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus" CT of >30) fruit. In agreement with the qPCR results, 2 weeks after exposure to ethylene, the incidences of SER in S fruit were 66.7% (Hamlin) and 58.7% (Valencia), whereas for AS fruit the decay rates were 6.7% (Hamlin) and 5.3% (Valencia). Diplodia colonization of S fruit AZ-C was observed by scanning electron microscopy and confirmed by PCR test and morphology of conidia in isolates from the AZ-C after surface sterilization. Diplodia CT values were negatively correlated with ethylene production (R = -0.838 for Hamlin; R = -0.858 for Valencia) in S fruit, and positively correlated with fruit detachment force (R = 0.855 for Hamlin; R = 0.850 for Valencia), suggesting that diplodia colonization in AZ-C may exacerbate HLB-associated preharvest fruit drop.
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Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
environment - cropping system/rotation
general biology - morphology - evolution


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Lasiodiplodia theobromae Citrus (genus)
Liberibacter asiaticus Citrus (genus)