Enhanced Acquisition Rates of 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' by the Asian Citrus Psyllid (Hemiptera: Liviidae) in the Presence of Vegetative Flush Growth in Citrus.
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The Asian citrus psyllid preferentially feeds and exclusively reproduces on young, newly emerged flush shoots of citrus. Asian citrus psyllid nymphs feed and complete their life stages on these flush shoots. Recent studies conducted under greenhouse conditions have shown that the transmission rates of 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' (CLas), the putative causal agent of huanglongbing disease of citrus, are enhanced when flush shoots are present. However, it is unclear if CLas acquisition by migrant adult Asian citrus psyllids is similarly enhanced. To address this knowledge gap, cohorts of Asian citrus psyllid adults were allowed 1-wk acquisition access period (AAP) on flushing and nonflushing shoots of qPCR-tested symptomatic (CLas+) and asymptomatic (CLas-) 10-yr-old sweet orange trees under field conditions. After the AAP, they were tested for CLas by qPCR. Progeny Asian citrus psyllid adults that emerged 4 wk post-AAP were similarly retrieved and tested. Eighty percent of flushing and 30% of nonflushing CLas+trees produced infective Asian citrus psyllid adults, indicating that flush shoots have greater potential to be inoculum sources for CLas acquisition. Concomitantly, 21.1% and 6.0% infective adults were retrieved, respectively, from flushing and nonflushing CLas+trees, indicating that Asian citrus psyllid adults acquire CLas more efficiently from flush shoots relative to mature shoots. In addition, 12.1% of infective Asian citrus psyllid adult progeny were obtained from 70% of flushing CLas+trees. Significantly lower mean Ct values were also obtained from infective adults retrieved from flushing relative to nonflushing trees. The results underscore the role of flush shoots in CLas acquisition and the need to protect citrus trees from Asian citrus psyllid infestations during flush cycles.