Diffusible Signal Factor-Repressed Extracellular Traits Enable Attachment of Xylella fastidiosa to Insect Vectors and Transmission
The hypothesis that a wild-type strain of Xylella fastidiosa would restore the ability of rpfF mutants blocked in diffusible signal factor production to be transmitted to new grape plants by the sharpshooter vector Graphocephala atropunctata was tested. While the rpfF mutant was very poorly transmitted by vectors irrespective of whether they had also fed on plants infected with the wild-type strain, wild-type strains were not efficiently transmitted if vectors had fed on plants infected with the rpfF mutant. About 100-fewer cells of a wild-type strain attached to wings of a vector when suspended in xylem sap from plants infected with an rpfF mutant than in sap from uninfected grapes. The frequency of transmission of cells suspended in sap from plants that were infected by the rpfF mutant was also reduced over threefold. Wild-type cells suspended in a culture supernatant of an rpfF mutant also exhibited 10-fold less adherence to wings than when suspended in uninoculated culture media. A factor released into the xylem by rpfF mutants, and to a lesser extent by the wild-type strain, thus inhibits their attachment to, and thus transmission by, sharpshooter vectors and may also enable them to move more readily through host plants.