Detection and visualization of an exopolysaccharide produced by Xylella fastidiosa in vitro and in planta
Many phytopathogenic bacteria, such as Ralstonia solanacearum, Pantoea stewartii, and Xanthomonas campestris, produce exopolysaccharides (EPSs) that aid in virulence, colonization, and survival. EPS can also contribute to host xylem vessel blockage. The genome of Xylella fastidiosa, the causal agent of Pierce's disease (PD) of grapevine, contains an operon that is strikingly similar to the X campestris gum operon, which is responsible for the production of xanthan gum. Based on this information, it has been hypothesized that X. fastidiosa is capable of producing an EPS similar in structure and composition to xanthan gum but lacking the terminal mannose residue. In this study, we raised polyclonal antibodies against a modified xanthan gum polymer similar to the predicted X. fastidiosa EPS polymer. We used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to quantify production of EPS from X. fastidiosa cells grown in vitro and immunolocalization microscopy to examine the distribution of X. fastidiosa EPS in biofilms formed in vitro and in planta and assessed the contribution of X. fastidiosa EPS to the vascular occlusions seen in PD-infected grapevines.