Argovit™ silver nanoparticles to fight Huanglongbing disease in Mexican limes (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle)
Nowadays, Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, commonly known as “yellow dragon disease”, affects citrus crops worldwide and has a devastating effect in the agro-industrial sector. Significant efforts have been made to fight the illness, but still, there is no effective treatment to eradicate the disease. This work is the first approach to evaluate the capacity of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) to directly eradicate the bacteria responsible for Huanglongbing disease, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), in the field. The AgNPs were administered by foliar sprinkling and trunk injection of 93 sick trees with remarkable results. Both methods produce an 80–90% decrease of bacterial titre, quantified by qRT-PCR in collected foliar tissue, compared with the control group. Scanning electron microscopy images show an essential reduction of starch accumulation in phloem vessels after AgNP treatments without evidence of bacteria in the analyzed samples. Compared with other effective methods that involve β-lactam antibiotics, the potency of AgNPs is 3 to 60-times higher when it is administered by foliar sprinkling and from 75 to 750-fold higher when the administration was by trunk-injection. All these results allow us to propose this AgNP formulation as a promising alternative for the treatment of infected trees in the field.