Lessons from One Fastidious Bacterium to Another: What Can We Learn about Liberibacter Species from Xylella fastidiosa
Huanglongbing is causing economic devastation to the citrus industry in Florida, and threatens the industry everywhere the bacterial pathogens in the Candidatus Liberibacter genus and their insect vectors are found. Bacteria in the genus cannot be cultured and no durable strategy is available for growers to control plant infection or pathogen transmission. However, scientists and grape growers were once in a comparable situation after the emergence of Pierce's disease, which is caused by Xylella fastidiosa and spread by its hemipteran insect vector. Proactive quarantine and vector control measures coupled with interdisciplinary data-driven science established control of this devastating disease and pushed the frontiers of knowledge in the plant pathology and vector biology fields. Our review highlights the successful strategies used to understand and control X. fastidiosa and their potential applicability to the liberibacters associated with citrus greening, with a focus on the interactions between bacterial pathogen and insect vector. By placing the study of Candidatus Liberibacter spp. within the current and historical context of another fastidious emergent plant pathogen, future basic and applied research to develop control strategies can be prioritized.