Specific Detection and Identification of American Mulberry-Infecting and Italian Olive-Associated Strains of Xylella fastidiosa by Polymerase Chain Reaction
Xylella fastidiosa causes bacterial leaf scorch in many landscape trees including elm, oak, sycamore and mulberry, but methods for specific identification of a particular tree host species- limited strain or differentiation of tree-specific strains are lacking. It is also unknown whether a particular landscape tree-infecting X. fastidiosa strain is capable of infecting multiple landscape tree species in an urban environment. We developed two PCR primers specific for mulberry-infecting strains of X. fastidiosa based on the nucleotide sequence of a unique open reading frame identified only in mulberry-infecting strains among all the North and South American strains of X. fastidiosa sequenced to date. PCR using the primers allowed for detection and identification of mulberry-infecting X. fastidiosa strains in cultures and in samples collected from naturally infected mulberry trees. In addition, no mixed infections with or non-specific detections of the mulberry-infecting strains of X. fastidiosa were found in naturally X. fastidiosa-infected oak, elm and sycamore trees growing in the same region where naturally infected mulberry trees were grown. This genotype-specific PCR assay will be valuable for disease diagnosis, studies of strain-specific infections in insects and plant hosts, and management of diseases caused by X. fastidiosa. Unexpectedly but interestingly, the unique open reading frame conserved in the mulberry-infecting strains in the U.S. was also identified in the recently sequenced olive-associated strain CoDiRO isolated in Italy. When the primer set was tested against naturally infected olive plant samples collected in Italy, it allowed for detection of olive-associated strains of X. fastidiosa in Italy. This PCR assay, therefore, will also be useful for detection and identification of the Italian group of X. fastidiosa strains to aid understanding of the occurrence, evolution and biology of this new group of X. fastidiosa strains.