Xylella fastidiosa CoDiRO strain associated with the olive quick decline syndrome in southern Italy belongs to a clonal complex of the subspecies pauca that evolved in Central America
Xylella fastidiosa, a xylem-limited bacterium transmitted by xylem-fluid-feeding Hemiptera insects, causes economic losses of both woody and herbaceous plant species. A Xyl. fastidiosa subsp. pauca strain, namely CoDiRO, was recently found to be associated with the 'olive quick decline syndrome' in southern Italy (i.e. Apulia region). Recently, some Xyl. fastidiosa strains intercepted in France from Coffea spp. plant cuttings imported from Central and South America were characterized. The introduction of infected plant material from Central America in Apulia was also postulated even though an ad hoc study to confirm this hypothesis is lacking. In the present study, we assessed the complete and draft genome of 27 Xyl. fastidiosa strains. Through a genome-wide approach, we confirmed the occurrence of three subspecies within Xyl. fastidiosa, namely fastidiosa, multiplex and pauca, and demonstrated the occurrence of a genetic clonal complex of four Xyl. fastidiosa strains belonging to subspecies pauca which evolved in Central America. The CoDiRO strain displayed 13 SNPs when compared with a strain isolated in Costa Rica from Coffea sp. and 32 SNPs when compared with two strains obtained from Nerium oleander in Costa Rica. These results support the close relationships of the two strains. The four strains in the clonal complex contain prophage-like genes in their genomes. This study strongly supports the possibility of the introduction of Xyl. fastidiosa in southern Italy via coffee plants grown in Central America. The data also stress how the current global circulation of agricultural commodities potentially threatens the agrosystems worldwide.