Expression of Xylella fastidiosa Fimbrial and Afimbrial Proteins during Biofilm Formation
Complete sequencing of the Xylella fastidiosa genome revealed characteristics that have not been described previously for a phytopathogen. One characteristic of this genome was the abundance of genes encoding proteins with adhesion functions related to biofilm formation, an essential step for colonization of a plant host or an insect vector. We examined four of the proteins belonging to this class encoded by genes in the genome of X. fastidiosa: the PilA2 and PilC fimbrial proteins, which are components of the type IV pili, and XadA1 and XadA2, which are afimbrial adhesins. Polyclonal antibodies were raised against these four proteins, and their behavior during biofilm development was assessed by Western blotting and immunofluorescence assays. In addition, immunogold electron microscopy was used to detect these proteins in bacteria present in xylem vessels of three different hosts (citrus, periwinkle, and hibiscus). We verified that these proteins are present in X. fastidiosa biofilms but have differential regulation since the amounts varied temporally during biofilm formation, as well as spatially within the biofilms. The proteins were also detected in bacteria colonizing the xylem vessels of infected plants.