Microarray analyses of Xylella fastidiosa provide evidence of coordinated transcription control of laterally transferred elements
Genetically distinct strains of the plant bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) are responsible for a variety of plant diseases, accounting for severe economic damage throughout the world. Using as a reference the genome of Xf 9a5c strain, associated with citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) we developed a microarray-based comparison involving 12 Xf isolates, providing a thorough assessment of the variation in genomic composition across the group. Our results demonstrate that Xf displays one of the largest flexible gene pools characterized to date, with several horizontally acquired elements, such as prophages, plasmids, and genomic islands (GIs), which contribute up to 18% of the final genome. Transcriptome analysis of bacteria grown under different conditions shows that most of these elements are transcriptionally active, and their expression can be influenced in a coordinated manner by environmental stimuli. Finally, evaluation of the genetic composition of these laterally transferred elements identified differences that may help to explain the adaptability of Xf strains to infect such a wide range of plant species.