Genomics-informed molecular detection of Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum strains causing severe bacterial leaf streak of corn.
Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum (syn. X. campestris pv. vasculorum) was initially identified as the causal agent of bacterial leaf streak of corn in South Africa. The pathovar vasculorum causes disease on sugarcane and corn, but a subset of these strains was noted for its increased disease severity in corn. This subset was re-classified as Xanthomonas campestris pv. zeae in the early 1990s and was found to have slightly different biochemical and genetic properties than isolates from sugarcane. There has been an emergence of X. campestris pv. zeae-like strains of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum in both the United States and Argentina since 2010. We performed whole genome sequencing on U.S. isolates to confirm their identity. Informed by comparative genomics, we then developed specific TaqMan qPCR and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the detection of this specific subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum strains. The qPCR 4909 assay was tested against 27 xanthomonads (diverse representation), 32 DNA extractions from corn leaves confirmed as positive or negative for the bacterium, 41 X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates from corn in the United States and Argentina, and 31 additional bacteria associated with corn, sugarcane, or sorghum. In all cases the assay was shown to be specific for the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe disease on corn. We then tested the LAMP 166 assay against the 27 xanthomonads and 32 corn leaf DNA samples, and we found this assay was also specific for this subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates. We also developed a live/dead cells distinction protocol using propidium monoazide prior to DNA extraction for analyzing seed washes using these assays. These two detection assays can be useful for both diagnosticians and researchers to specifically identify the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe symptoms on corn.