Scientific reports

β-caryophyllene emitted from a transgenic Arabidopsis or chemical dispenser repels Diaphorina citri, vector of Candidatus Liberibacters.

PMID 28717202


Production of citrus, the main fruit tree crop worldwide, is severely threatened by Huanglongbing (HLB), for which as yet a cure is not available. Spread of this bacterial disease in America and Asia is intimately connected with dispersal and feeding of the insect vector Diaphorina citri, oligophagous on rutaceous host plants. Effective control of this psyllid is an important component in successful HLB management programs. Volatiles released from the non-host guava have been shown to be repellent to the psyllid and to inhibit its response to citrus odour. By analysing VOC emission from guava we identified one volatile compound, (E)-β-caryophyllene, which at certain doses exerts a repellent effect on D. citri. Non-host plant rejection mediated by (E)-β-caryophyllene is demonstrated here by using Arabidopsis over-expression and knock-out lines. For the first time, results indicate that genetically engineered Arabidopsis plants with modified emission of VOCs can alter the behaviour of D. citri. This study shows that transgenic plants with an inherent ability to release (E)-β-caryophyllene can potentially be used in new protection strategies of citrus trees against HLB.