Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacterium has been strongly implicated as the causative agent of huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, which is currently the most devastating citrus disease worldwide. HLB is transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Psyllidae), in a persistent manner. We used quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect CLas in dissected organs of individual D. citri adults infected with HLB in the laboratory or collected from field-infected citrus trees in South Florida. The proportion of infected (CLas-positive) dissected organs was 47–70% for the salivary glands, 72–80% for the alimentary canal, and 79–97.5% for the rest of the insect body. Statistical analysis indicated that, in both field- and laboratory-infected D. citri, the proportion of infected salivary glands was significantly lower than that of other parts in the insect body. With field-collected psyllids, the relative copy number of CLas genomes, compared with psyllid genomic DNA in each sample, was significantly higher in both the salivary gland and alimentary canal compared with that in the rest of the insect body for both males and females. These results provide the first PCR confirmation of CLas in the alimentary canal and salivary glands of D. citri and strongly suggest that the salivary glands constitute an important transmission barrier to CLas in the psyllid vector. Our results also suggest that CLas may replicate or accumulate in both the alimentary canal and salivary glands of D. citri.
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Vol. 104 • No. 3