About the event
Banafsheh Molki is Ph.D. student in Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at Washington State University. Banafsheh received her B.S from Isfahan University of Technology in Chemical Engineering in 2010 and her M.S from Isfahan University of Technology in Chemical Engineering in 2014. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the characterization of the niche of Liberibacter species. Through her Ph.D. research, she has discovered the relationship between the Liberibacter infection status and physicochemical conditions inside insect vectors and developed in vitro culture of “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” inoculated from infected Asian citrus psyllids for the first time. Moreover, she was able to identify the potential helper and inhibitor microorganism to Liberibacter growth.
Characterization of the Niche of the Causing Agent of Citrus
Greening Disease, “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus”
In recent years, Phloem restricted pathogens including Liberibacter species have become the topic of many studies due to their huge economic impact and alarming spreading rate. Liberibacter species, especially “CandidatusLiberibacter asiaticus” (“Ca. L. asiaticus”), are categorized among the most devastating plant diseases. “Ca. L.asiaticus” is the associated agent with citrus greening disease or Huanglongbin (HLB), which has devastatedmillions of acres of citrus crops throughout the United States and abroad. This disease, first discovered in Florida in 2005 is now in California and Texas, and likely present in Arizona. The effect of citrus greening disease on the citrus industry in Florida is significant. The total citrus acreage in Florida has decreased about 17% since 2006 when HLB was discovered in Florida for the first time. Also, the citrus crop size has been reduced by about 61.5%. “Ca. L. asiaticus” is an uncultured gram-negative bacterium transferring between trees by its vector, the Asiancitrus psyllid. The unavailability of “Ca. L. asiaticus” pure culture in vitro has hindered the study of pathogenicity of “Ca. L. asiaticus” and finding a permanent cure for HLB.To develop a pure culture of “Ca. L. asiaticus”, it is important to characterize the niche of “Ca. L. asiaticus” in order to stimulate the natural environment of the pathogen’s host. To characterize the niche of “Ca. L. asiaticus”, microsensors were used to determine thephysiochemical conditions inside Asian citrus psyllids. Moreover, alternation of “Ca. L. asiaticus” microbiome has led to the identification of potential helper and inhibitor microorganisms to “Ca. L. asiaticus” growth. Putting these results together are expected to help us to develop a favorable environment for “Ca. L. asiaticus” growth and paratransgenic approach to control citrus greening disease.