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Transient expression of a citrus cystatin using the CTV (Citrus Tristeza Virus) vector aiming Diaphorina citri resistance, insect vector of Huanglongbing disease (HLB)

Grant number: 18/20823-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biochemistry - Molecular Biology
Principal Investigator:Andrea Soares da Costa Fuentes
Grantee:Sâmara Vieira Rocha
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):21/13093-3 - A study of plant-bacteria-vector network interactions of HLB Citrus disease through an Immuno-Ultrastructural and Subcellular Localization technologies, BE.EP.DD


The Brazilian citriculture is one of the most important agricultural activities for the national economy. The Brazil is today the leading orange producer in the world and the largest exporter of concentrated and frozen orange juice. The citrus orchards have been constantly attacked by several pests and pathogens which cause serious damages to the plants and consequently a significant drop in productivity. The disease called Huanglongbing has been causing serious damages to citrus fruit because the contaminated plants present smaller fruit size, a higher degree of acidity and a lower percentage of juice. This disease is caused by the bacterium CLas Candidatus Liberibacter spp that colonizes phloem vessels and is transmitted to citrus plants by the psyllid Diaphorina citri, a pest that has been spreading in recent years, without an efficient control method. In the absence of CLAS bacterial control strategies, the emphasis has been on the control of D. citri. An alternative to control the incidence of this disease in citrus orchards would be the development of plants resistants to the insect Diaphorina citri. The development of plants overexpressing protease inhibitors is an approach that has been widely used in pest control since these protease inhibitors have been shown to inhibit proteases present in the insect gut. Thus, it is intended in this project, inserted the Citrus sinensis cystatin (CsinCPI-2) into CTV vector (Citrus Tristeza Virus) and express transiently in citrus. It is expected that these plants may become resistant to this insect through the ability to express in large amount these defense-related proteins. Biological assays with the psyllid Diaphorina citri will be performed using plants with the transient expression of cystatin. Thus, we hope that these studies may contribute to strategies that may help to atenuate HLB. (AU)

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