Disruption of Xylella fastidiosa CVC gumB and gumF genes affects biofilm formation without a detectable influence on exopolysaccharide production
Xylella fastidiosa causes citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC), a destructive disease of citrus. Xylella fastidiosa forms a biofilm inside plants and insect vectors. Biofilms are complex structures involving X. fastidiosa cells and an extracellular matrix which blocks water and nutrient transport in diseased plants. It is hypothesized that the matrix might be composed of an extracellular polysaccharide (EPS), coded by a cluster of nine genes closely related to the xanthan gum operon of Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris. To understand the role of X. fastidiosa gum genes on biofilm formation and EPS biosynthesis, we produced gumB and gumF mutants. Xylella fastidiosa mutants were obtained by insertional duplication mutagenesis and recovered after triply cloning the cells. Xylella fastidiosa gumB and gumF mutants exhibited normal cell characteristics; typical colony morphology and EPS biosynthesis were not altered. It was of note that X. fastidiosa mutants showed a reduced capacity to form biofilm when BCYE was used as the sustaining medium, a difference not observed with PW medium. Unlike X. campestris pv. campestris, the expression of the X. fastidiosa gumB or gumF genes was not regulated by glucose.