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 x 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. IMPORTANCE Xylella 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.