April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic Diversity and Recombination among Xylella fastidiosa Subspecies.

Xylella fastidiosa is an economically important bacterial plant pathogen. With insights gained from 72 genomes, this study investigated differences among the three main subspecies, which have allopatric origins: X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa, multiplex, and pauca The origin of recombinogenic X. fastidiosa subsp. morus and sandyi was also assessed. The evolutionary rate of the 622 genes of the species core genome was estimated at the scale of an X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca subclade (7.62?×?10-7 substitutions per site per year), which was subsequently used to estimate divergence time for the subspecies and introduction events. The study characterized genes present in the accessory genome of each of the three subspecies and investigated the core genome to detect genes potentially under positive selection. Recombination is recognized to be the major driver of diversity in X. fastidiosa, potentially facilitating shifts to novel plant hosts. The relative effect of recombination in comparison to point mutation was calculated (r/m?=?2.259). Evidence of recombination was uncovered in the core genome alignment; X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa in the United States was less prone to recombination, with an average of 3.22 of the 622 core genes identified as recombining regions, whereas a specific clade of X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex was found to have on average 9.60 recombining genes, 93.2% of which originated from X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa Interestingly, for X. fastidiosa subsp. morus, which was initially thought to be the outcome of genome-wide recombination between X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa and X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex, intersubspecies homologous recombination levels reached 15.30% in the core genome. Finally, there is evidence of X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca strains from citrus containing genetic elements acquired from strains infecting coffee plants as well as genetic elements from both X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa and X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex In summary, our data provide new insights into the evolution and epidemiology of this plant pathogen.IMPORTANCEXylella fastidiosa is an important vector-borne plant pathogen. We used a set of 72 genomes that constitutes the largest assembled data set for this bacterial species so far to investigate genetic relationships and the impact of recombination on phylogenetic clades and to compare genome content at the subspecies level, and we used a molecular dating approach to infer the evolutionary rate of X. fastidiosa The results demonstrate that recombination is important in shaping the genomes of X. fastidiosa and that each of the main subspecies is under different selective pressures. We hope insights from this study will improve our understanding of X. fastidiosa evolution and biology.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Xylella fastidiosa in Olive in Apulia: Where We Stand.

A dramatic outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa decimating olive was discovered in 2013 in Apulia, Southern Italy. This pathogen is a quarantine bacterium in the European Union (EU) and created unprecedented turmoil for the local economy and posed critical challenges for its management. With the new emerging threat to susceptible crops in the EU, efforts were devoted to gain basic knowledge on the pathogen biology, host, and environmental interactions (e.g., bacterial strain(s) and pathogenicity, hosts, vector(s), and fundamental drivers of its epidemics) in order to find means to control or mitigate the impacts of the infections. Field surveys, greenhouse tests, and laboratory analyses proved that a single bacterial introduction occurred in the area, with a single genotype, belonging to the subspecies pauca, associated with the epidemic. Infections caused by isolates of this genotype turned to be extremely aggressive on the local olive cultivars, causing a new disease termed olive quick decline syndrome. Due to the initial extension of the foci and the rapid spread of the infections, eradication measures (i.e., pathogen elimination from the area) were soon replaced by containment measures including intense border surveys of the contaminated area, removal of infected trees, and mandatory vector control. However, implementation of containment measures encountered serious difficulties, including public reluctance to accept control measures, poor stakeholder cooperation, misinformation from some media outlets, and lack of robust responses by some governmental authorities. This scenario delayed and limited containment efforts and allowed the bacterium to continue its rapid dissemination over more areas in the region, as shown by the continuous expansion of the official borders of the infected area. At the research level, the European Commission and regional authorities are now supporting several programs aimed to find effective methods to mitigate and contain the impact of X. fastidiosa on olives, the predominant host affected in this epidemic. Preliminary evidence of the presence of resistance in some olive cultivars represents a promising approach currently under investigation for long-term management strategies. The present review describes the current status of the epidemic and major research achievements since 2013.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Assembly of the Genome of an Acidovorax citrulli Strain Reveals a Naturally Occurring Plasmid in This Species.

Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB), a serious threat to cucurbit crop production worldwide. Based on genetic and phenotypic properties, A. citrulli strains are divided into two major groups: group I strains have been generally isolated from melon and other non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In a previous study, we reported the genome of the group I model strain, M6. At that time, the M6 genome was sequenced by MiSeq Illumina technology, with reads assembled into 139 contigs. Here, we report the assembly of the M6 genome following sequencing with PacBio technology. This approach not only allowed full assembly of the M6 genome, but it also revealed the occurrence of a ~53 kb plasmid. The M6 plasmid, named pACM6, was further confirmed by plasmid extraction, Southern-blot analysis of restricted fragments and obtention of M6-derivative cured strains. pACM6 occurs at low copy numbers (average of ~4.1 ± 1.3 chromosome equivalents) in A. citrulli M6 and contains 63 open reading frames (ORFs), most of which (55.6%) encoding hypothetical proteins. The plasmid contains several genes encoding type IV secretion components, and typical plasmid-borne genes involved in plasmid maintenance, replication and transfer. The plasmid also carries an operon encoding homologs of a Fic-VbhA toxin-antitoxin (TA) module. Transcriptome data from A. citrulli M6 revealed that, under the tested conditions, the genes encoding the components of this TA system are among the highest expressed genes in pACM6. Whether this TA module plays a role in pACM6 maintenance is still to be determined. Leaf infiltration and seed transmission assays revealed that, under tested conditions, the loss of pACM6 did not affect the virulence of A. citrulli M6. We also show that pACM6 or similar plasmids are present in several group I strains, but absent in all tested group II strains of A. citrulli.


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