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Huanglongbing, A Systemic Disease, Restructures The Bacterial Community Associated With Citrus Roots

Pankaj Trivedi, Yongping Duan, Nian Wang

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ABSTRACT To examine the effect of pathogens on the diversity and structure of plant-associated bacterial communities, we carried out a molecular analysis using citrus and huanglongbing as a host-disease model. 16S rRNA gene clone library analysis of citrus roots revealed shifts in microbial diversity in response to pathogen infection. The clone library of the uninfected root samples has a majority of phylotypes showing similarity to well-known plant growth-promoting bacteria, including Caulobacter , Burkholderia , Lysobacter , Pantoea , Pseudomonas , Stenotrophomonas , Bacillus , and Paenibacillus . Infection by “ Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” restructured the native microbial community associated with citrus roots and led to the loss of detection of most phylotypes while promoting the growth of bacteria such as Methylobacterium and Sphingobacterium . In pairwise comparisons, the clone library from uninfected roots contained significantly higher 16S rRNA gene diversity, as reflected in the higher Chao 1 richness estimation ( P ≤ 0.01) of 237.13 versus 42.14 for the uninfected and infected clone libraries, respectively. Similarly, the Shannon index of the uninfected clone library (4.46) was significantly higher than that of the infected clone library (2.61). Comparison of the uninfected clone library with the infected clone library using LIBSHUFF statistics showed a significant difference ( P ≤ 0.05). Quantitative PCR analysis revealed that the bacterial community changes not only qualitatively but also quantitatively. The relative proportions of different groups of bacteria changed significantly after infection with the pathogen. These data indicate that infection of citrus by “ Ca . Liberibacter asiaticus” has a profound effect on the structure and composition of the bacterial community associated with citrus roots.