Sudden Death of Citrus in Brazil: a graft-transmissible bud union disease.
Citrus sudden death (CSD), a new, graft-transmissible disease of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and mandarin (C. reticulata) trees grafted on Rangpur lime (C. limonia) rootstock, was first seen in 1999 in Brazil, where it is present in the southern Triângulo Mineiro and northwestern São Paulo State. The disease is a serious threat to the citrus industry, as 85% of 200 million sweet orange trees in the State of São Paulo are grafted on Rangpur lime. After showing general decline symptoms, affected trees suddenly collapse and die, in a manner similar to trees grafted on sour orange (C. aurantium) rootstock when affected by tristeza decline caused by infection with Citrus tristeza virus (CTV). In tristeza-affected trees, the sour orange bark near the bud union undergoes profound anatomical changes. Light and electron microscopic studies showed very similar changes in the Rangpur lime bark below the bud union of CSD-affected trees: size reduction of phloem cells, collapse and necrosis of sieve tubes, overproduction and degradation of phloem, accumulation of nonfunctioning phloem (NFP), and invasion of the cortex by old NFP. In both diseases, the sweet orange bark near the bud union was also affected by necrosis of sieve tubes, and the phloem parenchyma contained characteristic "chromatic" cells. In CSD-affected trees, these cells were seen not only in the sweet orange phloem, but also in the Rangpur lime phloem. Recent observations indicated that CSD affected not only citrus trees grafted on Rangpur lime but also those on Volkamer lemon (C. volkameriana), with anatomical symptoms similar to those seen in Rangpur lime bark. Trees on alternative rootstocks, such as Cleopatra mandarin (C. reshni) and Swingle citrumelo [Citrus paradisi × Poncirus trifoliata], showed no symptoms of CSD. CSD-affected trees did recover when they were inarched with seedlings of these rootstocks, but not when inarched with Rangpur lime seedlings. These results indicate that CSD is a bud union disease. In addition, the bark of inarched Rangpur lime and Volkamer lemon seedlings showed, near the approach-graft union, the same anatomical alterations as the bud union bark from the Rangpur lime rootstock in CSD-affected trees. The dsRNA patterns from CSD-affected trees and unaffected trees were similar and indicative of CTV. CSD-affected trees did not react by immunoprinting-ELISA using monoclonal antibodies against 11 viruses. No evidence supported the involvement of viroids in CSD. The potential involvement of CTV and other viruses in CSD is discussed.