The filamentous phage XacF1 causes loss of virulence in Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri, the causative agent of citrus canker disease
In this study, filamentous phage XacF1, which can infect Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri (Xac) strains, was isolated and characterized. Electron microscopy showed that XacF1 is a member of the family lnoviridae and is about 600 nm long. The genome of XacF1 is 7325 nucleotides in size, containing 13 predicted open reading frames (ORFs), some of which showed significant homology to Ff-like phage proteins such as ORF1 (pH), ORF2 (pV), ORF6 (pill), and ORF8 (pVI). XacF1 showed a relatively wide host range, infecting seven out of 11 strains tested in this study. Frequently, XacF1 was found to be integrated into the genome of Xac strains. This integration occurred at the host dif site (attB) and was mediated by the host XerC/D recombination system. The attP sequence was identical to that of Xanthomonas phage Cf1c. Interestingly, infection by XacF1 phage caused several physiological changes to the bacterial host cells, including lower levels of extracellular polysaccharide production, reduced motility, slower growth rate, and a dramatic reduction in virulence. In particular, the reduction in virulence suggested possible utilization of XacF1 as a biological control agent against citrus canker disease.