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PLoS One. 2019 May 16;14(5):e0216599. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216599. eCollection 2019.

Color morphology of Diaphorina citri influences interactions with its bacterial endosymbionts and 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus'.

Author information

1
Boyce Thompson Institute, Ithaca, NY, United States of America.
2
Department of Plant Pathology, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.
3
USDA ARS Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research Unit, Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, Ithaca, NY, United States of America.
4
US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Pierce, FL, United States of America.
5
Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States of America.

Abstract

Diaphorina citri is a vector of 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus,' (CLas), associated with Huanglongbing, (HLB, or citrus greening) disease in citrus. D. citri exhibits three different color morph variants, blue, gray and yellow. Blue morphs have a greater capacity for long-distance flight as compared to non-blue morphs, but little else is known about how color morphology influences vector characteristics. In this study, we show that the color morphology of the insect is derived from pigmented cells of the fat body. Blue morphs acquire a lower level of CLas in their bodies from infected trees as compared to their gray and yellow conspecifics, referred to in this paper collectively as non-blue morphs. Accordingly, CLas titer in citrus leaves inoculated by non-blue insects was 6-fold higher than in leaves inoculated by blue insects. Blue color morphs harbored lower titers of Wolbachia and 'Candidatus Profftella armatura,' two of the D. citri bacterial endosymbionts. Expression of hemocyanin, a copper-binding oxygen transport protein responsible for the blue coloration of hemolymph of other arthropods and mollusks, was previously correlated with blue color morphology and is highly up-regulated in insects continuously reared on CLas infected citrus trees. Based on our results, we hypothesized that a reduction of hemocyanin expression would reduce the D. citri immune response and an increase in the titer of CLas would be observed. Surprisingly, a specific 3-fold reduction of hemocyanin-1 transcript levels using RNA silencing in blue adult D. citri morphs had an approximately 2-fold reduction on the titer of CLas. These results suggest that hemocyanin signaling from the fat body may have multiple functions in the regulation of bacterial titers in D. citri, and that hemocyanin is one of multiple psyllid genes involved in regulating CLas titer.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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