Anti-CLas Bioproduct Discovery
Successful management of HLB largely evolves around controlling ACP insect vector populations with wide-area management programs (Link). In California, release of the ACP predator Tamarixia (ACP Biocontrol) coupled with early detection/eradication of HLB-infected trees is key to keep HLB incidence low (CDFA Link).
There are very few strategies that directly target the bacterial pathogen causing HLB (CLas: Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus) living inside the tree vasculature. Our overarching goal is aimed at identifying beneficial micro-organisms associated within the microbiome (the collection of microbes) of citrus trees. We hypothesize that some microbes are to CLas what Tamarixia is to the ACP insect and those antagonistic biocontrol agents could be deployed for disease management. In addition, we suspect that some micro-organisms support key biological functions that help tree cope biotic stresses and could be used as probiotics for citrus production.
Root communities of HLB-impacted citrus change significantly as disease progresses and become enriched in putative root pathogens as trees enter the mid-disease phase. Putatively beneficial species decline very early during disease progression. Disease ratings, 1= healthy to 5= dead or dying. Ginnan et al, 2020, Phytobiomes.