Spatial Genetic Structure of a Vector-Borne Generalist Pathogen

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Vector-borne generalist pathogens colonize several reservoir species and are usually dependent on polyphagous arthropods for dispersal; however, their spatial genetic structure is generally poorly understood. Using fast-evolving genetic markers (20 simple sequence repeat loci, resulting in a total of 119 alleles), we studied the genetic structure of the vector-borne plant-pathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa in Napa Valley, CA, where it causes Pierce's disease when it is transmitted to grapevines from reservoir plants in adjacent riparian vegetation. Eighty-three different X. fastidiosa multilocus microsatellite genotypes were found in 93 isolates obtained from five vineyards, resulting in an index of clonal fraction closer to 0 and a Simpson's genotypic diversity index (D) closer to a maximum value of 1. Moderate values of Nei's gene diversity (H(Nei); average H(Nei) = 0.41) were observed for most of the X. fastidiosa populations. The low Wright's index of genetic diversity among populations calculated by the FSTAT software (Wright's F(ST) index) among population pairs (0.0096 to 0.1080) indicated a weak or absent genetic structure among the five populations; a panmictic population was inferred by Bayesian analyses (with the STRUCTURE and BAPS programs). Furthermore, a Mantel test showed no significant genetic isolation by distance when both Nei (r = -0.3459, P = 0.268) and linearized theta (r = -0.3106, P = 0.269) indices were used. These results suggest that the riparian vegetation from which vectors acquire the pathogen prior to inoculation of grapevines supports a diverse population of X. fastidiosa.


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  • Xylella fastidiosa


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