Non-Lethal Effects of N-Acetylcysteine on Xylella fastidiosa Strain De Donno Biofilm Formation and Detachment

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This study investigated in-vitro the non-lethal effects of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on Xylella fastidiosa subspecies pauca strain De Donno (Xf-DD) biofilm. This strain was isolated from the olive trees affected by the olive quick decline syndrome in southern Italy. Xf-DD was first exposed to non-lethal concentrations of NAC from 0.05 to 1000 mu M. Cell surface adhesion was dramatically reduced at 500 mu M NAC (-47%), hence, this concentration was selected for investigating the effects of pre-, post- and co-treatments on biofilm physiology and structural development, oxidative homeostasis, and biofilm detachment. Even though 500 mu M NAC reduced bacterial attachment to surfaces, compared to the control samples, it promoted Xf-DD biofilm formation by increasing: (i) biofilm biomass by up to 78% in the co-treatment, (ii) matrix polysaccharides production by up to 72% in the pre-treatment, and (iii) reactive oxygen species levels by 3.5-fold in the co-treatment. Xf-DD biofilm detachment without and with NAC was also investigated. The NAC treatment did not increase biofilm detachment, compared to the control samples. All these findings suggested that, at 500 mu M, NAC diversified the phenotypes in Xf-DD biofilm, promoting biofilm formation (hyper-biofilm-forming phenotype) and discouraging biofilm detachment (hyper-attachment phenotype), while increasing oxidative stress level in the biofilm.


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  • Olea europaea
  • Xylella fastidiosa
  • Xylella fastidiosa subsp. pauca


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