Study Finds HLB-Infected Citrus Prime Spot For Species To Communicate, Play Tricks

According to a new University of Florida study, four separate species are communicating with and sometimes tricking each other around a scent produced by greening-infected citrus.

Communication between species is common but almost always is described between two or three species, said Lukasz Stelinski, associate professor of entomology and nematology at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred.

Asian citrus psyllid
Asian citrus psyllid

Stelinski wanted to know how a fourth species, in this case, a wasp, would vary this interaction — a probe that may be one of the few cases where species at four levels of the food chain use one odor to communicate with, and exploit, each other.
Stelinski’s team found that wasps and psyllids are both attracted to the odor emitted by an infected citrus tree. This olfactory cue may then help wasps find and prey on the psyillid by “eavesdropping” on the odor exchanged between bacteria, citrus trees, and the psyllid.
The findings were published online by Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Here’s how the interaction works: When host citrus trees are infected, they emit an odor, Stelinski said. That odor, methyl salicylate, makes them smell more appealing to the vector, the Asian citrus psyllid. Lured by scent, the tiny insect goes to the infected tree, searching for sap to snack on.
The hungry psyllid is attracted to the infected tree, even though pathogen-infected trees are less nutritious to psyllids than healthy ones. “This may be a mechanism, among many, that encourages the spread of the pathogen,” Stelinski said.
Stelinski’s team brought a wildcard, a wasp, into the mix because it’s a natural psyllid enemy. They wondered whether the wasp also is attracted to the methyl salicylate, as it hunts for psyllids to eat. So they put wasps in an olfactometer, a Y-shaped device that delivers two opposing air flows, each carrying a different odor.
The wasps could fly toward methyl salicylate or to a control odor, limonene, another compound produced by citrus trees. The wasps were strongly attracted by the pathogen-induced scent. They later learned the wasp was more likely to attack psyllids on greening-infected plants or methyl salicylate-treated plants rather than healthy plants.

“Biologically, we think it’s very interesting,” Stelinski said. “You to have to look at multiple levels of the food chain. The pathogen is manipulating the plant to attract the good guy and the bad guy. The finding makes the tree look like a beacon in a sea of uninfected trees.”

Stelinksi wrote the paper with Xavier Martini, a postdoctoral associate and Kirsten Pelz-Stelinksi, an associate professor of entomology, both at CREC.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
CitrusWestern Growers Praises Introduction Of California Emergency Drought Relief Act
July 30, 2015
Legislation contains short- and long-term provisions to deal with the historic drought. Read More
CitrusGroup Food Safety Audits May Help Prepare You For The Produce Rule
July 29, 2015
Group food safety audits, slated to be available next spring, may save small- to mid-size growers time and money. Read More
CitrusNew Director Named For Florida’s Citrus Research And Education Center
July 28, 2015
Michael Rogers takes a positive charge at finding solutions to greening. Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mandates
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Growing Licenses
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateSecond Case In A Month Of Citrus Greening In California
July 24, 2015
More trees testing positive for disease within close proximity of original find. Read More
CitrusUSDA Expands Crop Insurance Options For Fruit And Nut Growers
July 24, 2015
The USDA announced the expansion of crop insurance to provide additional options for fruit and nut producers. The Supplemental Coverage Read More
The Latest
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
money
CitrusBankrupt Florida Farm To Yield Plenty Of Land, Equipmen…
July 30, 2015
As many as seven different buyers could be part of this Chapter 11 proceeding. Read More
CitrusWestern Growers Praises Introduction Of California Emer…
July 30, 2015
Legislation contains short- and long-term provisions to deal with the historic drought. Read More
CitrusGroup Food Safety Audits May Help Prepare You For The P…
July 29, 2015
Group food safety audits, slated to be available next spring, may save small- to mid-size growers time and money. Read More
CitrusNew Director Named For Florida’s Citrus Research And Ed…
July 28, 2015
Michael Rogers takes a positive charge at finding solutions to greening. Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mand…
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Gr…
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
CitrusUSDA Expands Crop Insurance Options For Fruit And Nut G…
July 24, 2015
The USDA announced the expansion of crop insurance to provide additional options for fruit and nut producers. The Supplemental Coverage Read More
FFVA 2015 Annual Convention logo
CitrusFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Annual Conven…
July 23, 2015
Association's 72nd gathering to feature high-profile speakers, up-to-the-minute Issues Forums, and some fun to mix in with the business of the day. Read More
CitrusMarketing Order Amendments Referendum Set For Fresh Flo…
July 22, 2015
Changes include the authorization and regulation of new varieties. Read More
Shannon Shepp
CitrusInterim Executive Director Named For Florida Department…
July 22, 2015
Shannon Shepp will take on leadership duties immediately after unanimous Citrus Commission vote. Read More
CitrusInternational Report Confirms 2014 As Earth’s Warmest Y…
July 21, 2015
Scientific compilation notes climate markers continue to show global warming trend. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusGMO Labeling Battle Moves To House Floor
July 21, 2015
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 was passed by the Agriculture Committee last week and will head Read More
Doug Ackerman
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Executive Director Resigns
July 21, 2015
Doug Ackerman steps down after traffic incident. Read More
CitrusWOTUS Wranglings Leaving Agriculture High And Dry [Opin…
July 17, 2015
In late May, the EPA announced the highly anticipated final rule re-defining the waters of the United States (WOTUS) under Read More
man expressing opinion through bullhorn
CitrusStay Opinionated, My Farmer Friends
July 15, 2015
How far are you willing to go to defend your beliefs? Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Water Managers Keeping Close Eye On Dry C…
July 15, 2015
Traditional wet season has been anything but so far as certain parts of the region now experiencing “extreme drought.” Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusUnited Fresh Washington Conference Connects You With Ke…
July 14, 2015
United Fresh has announced the Washington Conference, which will be held Sept. 28-30 in Washington D.C. The conference offers an Read More