HLB Bacteria Isolates Can Vary

Taylor Hillman Citrus, Pest Update


Proteins from the HLB-causing Bacteria Differ Between Region, Tree Variety

Research is aiming to identify proteins associated with the bacteria that causes huanglongbing disease in hopes of detecting the disease earlier in a tree. Experts working on the project say that the isolates differ according to the region and that relationship needs to be understood.

Isolates Can Vary

UC Riverside associate professor Wenbo Ma says the regional differences aren’t the only challenge. She says these isolates can also differ by tree variety.

Ma says a recent 5-year, 4-million dollar grant will help ramp up this research.

More about the research
From UC ANR: Because the pathogen that is associated with HLB doesn’t spread throughout infected citrus trees right away, selecting a branch to test is a shot in the dark. Wenbo Ma, associate professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at UC Riverside, believes that the proteins secreted by the bacterium that is associated with HLB are moved rapidly throughout the tree in the phloem, the food-conducting tissue of the plant. Pathogen-specific proteins in the phloem could be a more reliable disease detection tool than the pathogen itself. Ma and her research associates developed a simple and fast method to sample the phloem. “Choose a couple of branches, cut them off and blot the cut ends on filter paper,” she said. “Back in the lab, antibodies are used to detect proteins on the membrane.” Ma has used this disease detection technique successfully to detect citrus stubborn disease. Read more from UC ANR.