Huanglongbing (HLB), the most destructive citrus pathosystem worldwide

Huanglongbing (HLB) is the most destructive citrus pathosystem worldwide. Previously known primarily from Asia and Africa, it was introduced into the Western Hemisphere in 2004. All infected commercial citrus industries continue to decline owing to inadequate current control methods. HLB increase and regional spatial spread, related to vector populations, are rapid compared with other arboreal pathosystems.

Disease dynamics result from multiple simultaneous spatial processes, suggesting that psyllid vector transmission is a continuum from local area to very long distance. Evolutionarily, HLB appears to have originated as an insect endosymbiont that has moved into plants. Lack of exposure of citrus to the pathogen prior to approximately 100 years ago did not provide sufficient time for development of resistance. A prolonged incubation period and regional dispersal make eradication nonviable. Multiple asymptomatic infections per symptomatic tree, incomplete systemic distribution within trees, and prolonged incubation period make detection difficult and greatly complicate disease control.