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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Research Project #430547

Research Project: Harnessing Natural Variation in Transmission of Liberibacter by the Asian Citrus Psyllid to Develop Novel HLB Control Strategies

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Project Number: 8062-22410-006-45-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Feb 1, 2016
End Date: Jan 31, 2020

Objective:
The overall goal of our project is to develop technologies that block Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) transmission of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) and to develop a simple yeast biosensor that will enable the identification of CLas-harboring insects in the field.

Approach:
This project will utilize a panel of isofemale ACP lines which have been characterized for their difference in CLas transmission efficiency. Analysis of differences between natural populations of ACP varying in their ability to acquire or transmit the citrus greening pathogen may lead to new strategies for the management of HLB. We will determine the genetic basis of CLas transmission by Diaphorina citri, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), including how interactions between the insect and its bacterial endosymbionts contribute to the CLas transmission process. Candidatus Profftella armatura is an endosymbiont specific to the ACP which produces high amounts of a polyketide toxin, diaphorin, hypothesized to play a key role in enabling CLas transmission by the insect vector. Functional analysis of diaphorin, including identification and characterization of its protein binding partners, will be performed. Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) gene silencing technology will be used to knock down production of ACP proteins in insects feeding on non-transgenic CTV-silenced plants. Proteomic data revealing specific ACP peptides found only in insects harboring CLas will be exploited to develop a yeast biosensor to identify individual ACP harboring CLas that can easily be used by growers. Our project will have an education component: we will involve Cornell University undergraduate researchers in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) program in the development of the CLas biosensor using synthetic biology.