Citrus Viroids: Symptom Expression and Performance of Washington Navel Sweet Orange Trees Grafted on Carrizo Citrange
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Citrus are natural hosts of several viroid species. Citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd) and Hop stunt viroid (HSVd) are the causal agents of two well-known diseases of citrus, exocortis and cachexia. Other viroids have been found to induce specific symptoms and different degrees of stunting in trees grafted on trifoliate orange and trifoliate orange hybrids. A field assay was initiated in 1989 to establish the effect of CEVd, HSVd, Citrus bent leaf viroid (CBLVd), Citrus dwarfing viroid (CDVd), and Citrus bark cracking viroid (CBCVd) on Washington navel sweet orange trees grafted on Canizo citrange rootstock. Here we report the effect of viroid infection on symptom expression, tree size, fruit production and quality evaluated from 2004 to 2007. Vegetative growth was affected by viroid infection with height and canopy volume being reduced. No bark scaling symptoms were observed in CEVd-infected trees albeit they presented lesions and blisters in the roots. Bark cracking symptoms were consistently observed in CBCVd-infected trees that were smaller with enhanced productivity and fruit size. No major effects were found as a result of infection with CBLVd, HSVd, or CDVd. The quality of the fruits was not affected by viroid infection, except for the low diameter of the fruits harvested from HSVd-infected trees. An interesting effect was identified in terms of tree productivity increase (yield/canopy volume) as a result of infection with CEVd, CDVd, and especially CBCVd.