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Extended persistence of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) DNA in Huanglongbing-affected citrus tissue after bacterial death

Highlights•Heat treatment eliminated living CLas from citrus plants.•DNA of CLas remained detectable for 5 months.•HLB therapy assessment should consider residual bacterial DNA.AbstractObjectiveWe aimed to determine the rate of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) DNA disappearance from Huanglongbing (citrus greening disease)-affected citrus trees after bacterial death from heat treatment.ResultsUsing the leaf disc sampling method, we followed CLas qPCR Ct values in leaves of potted ‘Valencia’ orange trees after a heat-treatment that eliminated viable CLas. Although titer declined, CLas remained detectable 5 months after treatment. These results warn caution in interpreting experiments that use CLas titer to assess effects therapeutic treatments on diseased plants. Residual DNA may be detectable for 6 months, but the time to decay depends on pretreatment titer.

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