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Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 15;6:33418. doi: 10.1038/srep33418.

Morphological abnormalities and cell death in the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) midgut associated with Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus.

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Department of Entomology, Volcani Center, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagnan 50250, Israel.
Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States.
Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States.
USDA Agricultural Research Service, Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research Unit, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States.


Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) is a phloem-limited, gram-negative, fastidious bacterium that is associated with the development of citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB). CLas is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) Diaphorina citri, in a circulative manner. Two major barriers to transmission within the insect are the midgut and the salivary glands. We performed a thorough microscopic analysis within the insect midgut following exposure to CLas-infected citrus trees. We observed changes in nuclear architecture, including pyknosis and karyorrhexis as well as changes to the actin cytoskeleton in CLas-exposed midgut cells. Further analyses showed that the changes are likely due to the activation of programmed cell death as assessed by Annexin V staining and DNA fragmentation assays. These results suggest that exposure to CLas-infected trees induces apoptotic responses in the psyllid midgut that should be further investigated. Understanding the adaptive significance of the apoptotic response has the potential to create new approaches for controlling HLB.

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