Expression of putative pathogenicity-related genes in Xylella fastidiosa grown at low and high cell density conditions in vitro
Xylella fastidiosa is the causal agent of economically important plant diseases, including citrus variegated chlorosis and Pierce's disease. Hitherto, there has been no information on the molecular mechanisms controlling X. fastidiosa-plant interactions. To determine whether predicted open reading frames (ORFs) encoding putative pathogenicity-related factors were expressed by X. fastidiosa 9a5c cells grown at low (LCD) and high cell density (HCD) conditions in liquid modified PW medium, reverse Northern blot hybridization and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experiments were performed. Our results indicated that ORFs XF2344, XF2369, XF1851 and XF0125, encoding putative Fur, GumC, a serine-protease and RsmA, respectively, were significantly suppressed at HCD conditions. In contrast, ORF XF1115, encoding putative RpfF, was significantly induced at HCD conditions. Expressions of ORFs XF2367, XF2362 and XF0290, encoding putative GumD, GumJ and RpfA, respectively, were detected only at HCD conditions, whereas expression of ORF XF0287, encoding putative RpfB was detected only at LCD conditions. Bioassays with an Agrobacterium traG::IacZ reporter system indicated that X. fastidiosa does not synthesize N-acyl-homoserine lactones, whereas bioassays with a diffusible signal factor (DSF)-responsive Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris mutant indicate that X. fastidiosa synthesizes a molecule similar to DSF in modified PW medium. Our data also suggest that the synthesis of the DSF-like molecule and fastidian gum by X. fastidiosa is affected by cell density in vitro.