Characterization of the Relative Abundance of the Citrus Pathogen Ca. Liberibacter Asiaticus in the Microbiome of Its Insect Vector, Diaphorina citri, using High Throughput 16S rRNA Sequencing

Jennie R Fagen, Adriana Giongo, Christopher T Brown, Austin G Davis-Richardson, Kelsey A Gano, Eric W Triplett*
Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida

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© Fagen et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, P.O Box 110700, Gainesville 32611-0700, USA; Tel: +1-352-392-5430; Fax: +1-352-392-5922; E-mail:


The relationship between the causal agent of Huanglongbing (HLB), Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus(Las), and the naturally occurring endosymbiotic community of its insect vector, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), Diaphorina citri, was studied. Variation was observed in the titer of Las within an ACP population feeding on the same material. The cause of this disparity is unknown, and has implications for Las transmission and the spread of HLB. This study utilizes culture independent methods to establish the relationship between the ACP’s microbial community and Las acquisition. DNA from 21 psyllids was amplified using universal 16S rRNA primers with Illumina adaptor regions and a sample-specific 7- base identifier. These amplicons were then batch-sequenced on the Illumina platform. The resulting sequences were separated by the identifier, and compared to known sequences in a 16S rRNA database. The microbial communities of each psyllid were compared to determine whether a correlation exists between the ACP’s endosymbionts and level of Las acquisition.

ACPs were dominated by the same four bacterialgenera regardless of the abundance of Ca.Liberibacter. A combination of qPCR and Illumina sequencing was used to establish an infection gradient among the sampled ACPs. The Ca. Liberibacter titer within the insect was found to have a strong negative relationship with an endosymbiont residing in the syncytium of the mycetocyte and a positive relationship with Wolbachia. These correlations have implications in the acquisition of Las by the ACP as well as the activities of Las within this vector.

Keywords: Bacteriocyte, Huanglongbing, Illumina, multiplex, psyllid, syncytium endosymbiont.