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Effects of mixtures of citrus viroids as transmissible small nuclear RNA on tree dwarfing and commercial scion performance on Carrizo citrange rootstock


Dr G. Vidalakis, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


The term ‘transmissible small nuclear ribonucleic acids' (TsnRNAs) describes well characterised viroid RNA species that do not induce any disease syndromes in specific citrus hosts but rather act as regulatory genetic elements modifying tree performance. Twelve-year-old navel orange and 10-year-old Clementine mandarin trees on Carrizo citrange (Citrus sinensis×Poncirus trifoliata) rootstock treated with a mixture of three TsnRNAs (−Ia, syn. Citrus bent leaf viroid, +IIa, syn. Hop stunt viroid and +IIIb, syn. Citrus dwarfing viroid) were reduced in size by 33% and 43%, respectively. Clementine trees treated with a mixture of TsnRNA−Ia+IIa or −Ia+IIIb also had reduced canopy volume (CV) (∼38 and 31%, respectively), whereas trees treated with TsnRNA−IIa+IIIb showed little effect. The effects of the double TsnRNA treatments −Ia+IIa and −Ia+IIIb on Clementine canopy size and commercial performance were comparable and in some cases superior to that of the triple TsnRNA mixture. The TsnRNA−Ia+IIa treatment had the most attractive commercial traits with increased production of Clementine fruit per CV (23.6%), more fruit with high commercial value (31.7%), and more fruit optimally distributed in the canopy (68% of fruit between 0.5 and 2.5 m). None of the TsnRNA treatments affected the growth of Carrizo rootstock seedlings after 8 years in the field. Navel orange and Clementine scions treated with the same triple TsnRNA mixture expressed different trunk and fruit production patterns although effects on CV were similar.