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Citrus blight is a decline disorder of unknown etiology. Its earliest symptom is redistribution of Zn within the tree. The canopy exhibits symptoms of Zn deficiency while Zn accumulates in trunk phloem just above the bud union. Phloem Zn was associated with complexing agents. Zn-binding proteins (ZBPs) were isolated from phloem tissue extracts of mature healthy and blight citrus trees. After purification by ion exchange chromatography (IEC) and size exclusion chromatography, ZBP's from healthy and blight-affected citrus trees {`Valencia' sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] on rough lemon [C. jambhiri (L.)]) were compared for relative abundance. Size exclusion chromatography indicated that the proteins were and 19.5 kD Mr. IEC demonstrated that the 5 kD ZBP was slightly anionic and that the 19.5 kD ZBP was highly anionic. There were 2.5 × times more of the 5 kD ZBP in blight material than in healthy (purified on an equal prot basis). Levels 19.5 kD ZBP were equivalent in blight and healthy phloem tissue extracts, on both fresh weight and total protein bases. The amino acid composition of the 5 kD ZBP was much more complex than would be expected for phytochelatins. Altered phloem structure also was apparent in blight versus healthy trees, with phloem fresh and dry weights increased in the blight-affected citrus. Phloem specific expression of the ZBPs was also apparent.

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