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First Report of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ Infecting Eggplant in Honduras

    Authors and Affiliations
    • J. E. Munyaneza
    • V. G. Sengoda , USDA-ARS, Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, 5230 Konnowac Pass Road, Wapato, WA 98951
    • E. Aguilar , Zamorano University, Km 30 carretera a Danlí, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    • B. R. Bextine , University of Texas at Tyler, 3900 University Blvd., Tyler, TX 75799
    • K. F. McCue , USDA-ARS, Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit, 800 Buchanan Street, Albany CA 94710

      In May of 2012, eggplant (Solanum melongena) plants in an experimental research plot located at Zamorano in the Department of Francisco Morazán, Honduras, were observed with symptoms that included leaf chlorosis and cupping, overall stunting, and production of small and malformed fruits. The research plot was planted next to a commercial tomato field heavily infested with the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli, a vector of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (1,2,3). This bacterium severely affects potato and other solanaceous species and is the putative causal agent of zebra chip disease (2,3). The plot was planted with the eggplant variety ‘China’ and about 25% of the plants were symptomatic. A total of 10 eggplant samples, including five symptomatic and five asymptomatic plants, were collected from the plot. Total DNA was extracted from the leaf tissue of each of the collected plants with the cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) buffer extraction method (1). The DNA samples were then tested by PCR using specific primer sets OA2/OI2c and OMB 1482f/2086r to amplify a portion of 16S rDNA and the outer membrane protein (OMB) genes, respectively, of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ (1,2). OMB gene and 16S rDNA fragments of 605 and 1,168 bp, respectively, were amplified from the DNA of two of the five (40%) symptomatic plants with each primer set, indicating the presence of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum.’ No ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ was detected in the five asymptomatic plants with either primer sets. DNA amplicons with both primer sets were cloned from the DNA of the two ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’-positive plant samples and four clones of each of the four amplicons were sequenced. BLASTn analysis of the 16S rDNA resulted in two independent but related consensus sequences (deposited in GenBank as Accession Nos. KF188224 and KF188225) and were 99% similar to each other. The two sequences showed 99 to 100% identity to a number of 16S rDNA sequences of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ in Genbank, including accessions HM245242, FJ811596, and KC768319. For the OMB amplicons, a single consensus sequence was obtained following clone sequencing and was deposited in GenBank as accession KF188229. BLASTn analysis of the sequence indicated that it was 100% identical to several OMB sequences of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ in GenBank, including accessions KC768331 and CP002371. To our knowledge, this is the first report of ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ associated with eggplant in Honduras. Eggplant is an economically important commodity in Central America and serious damage to this crop due to this plant pathogen could expand throughout the region, especially if its insect vector B. cockerelli is not properly managed. ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ has also caused millions of dollars in losses to potato and several other solanaceous crops in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and New Zealand (2,3). In addition, this bacterium severely damages carrot crops in Europe, where it is transmitted to carrot by the psyllids Trioza apicalis and B. trigonica (3,4). It is imperative that both ‘Ca. L. solanacearum’ and its insect vectors be effectively monitored and managed to minimize their threat to economically important vegetable crops in many parts of the world.

      References: (1) J. M. Crosslin et al. Southwest. Entomol. 36:125, 2011. (2) L. W. Liefting et al. Plant Dis. 93:208, 2009. (3) J. E. Munyaneza. Am. J. Pot. Res. 89:329, 2012. (4) J. E. Munyaneza et al. J. Econ. Entomol. 103:1060, 2010.