Differentiation of strains of Xylella fastidiosa by a variable number of tandem repeat analysis
Short sequence repeats (SSRs) with a potential variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) loci were identified in the genome of the citrus pathogen Xylella fastidiosa and used for typing studies. Although mono- and dinucleotide repeats were absent, we found several intermediate-length 7-, 8-, and 9-nucleotide repeats, which we examined for allelic polymorphisms using PCR. Five genuine VNTR loci were highly polymorphic within a set of 27 X. fastidiosa strains from different hosts. The highest average Nei's measure of genetic diversity (H) estimated for VNTR loci was 0.51, compared to 0.17 derived from randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. For citrus X. fastidiosa strains, some specific VNTR loci had a H value of 0.83, while the maximum value given by specific RAPD loci was 0.12. Our approach using VNTR markers provides a high-resolution tool for epidemiological, genetic, and ecological analysis of citrus-specific X. fastidiosa strains.