Transmission of Methylobacterium mesophilicum by Bucephalogonia xanthophis for Paratransgenic Control Strategy of Citrus Variegated Chlorosis
Methylobacterium mesophilicum, originally isolated as an endophytic bacterium from citrus plants, was genetically transformed to express green fluorescent protein (GFP). The GFP-labeled strain of M. mesophilicum was inoculated into Catharanthus roseus (model plant) seedlings and further observed colonizing its xylem vessels. The transmission of this endophyte by Bucephalogonia xanthophis, one of the insect vectors that transmit Xylella fastidiosa subsp. pauca, was verified by insects feeding from fluids containing the GFP bacterium followed by transmission to plants and isolating the endophyte from C. roseus plants. Forty-five days after inoculation, the plants exhibited endophytic colonization by M. mesophilicum, confirming this bacterium as a nonpathogenic, xylem-associated endophyte. Our data demonstrate that M. mesophilicum not only occupy the same niche of X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca inside plants but also may be transmitted by B. xanthophis. The transmission, colonization, and genetic manipulation of M. mesophilicum is a prerequisite to examining the potential use of symbiotic control to interrupt the transmission of X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca, the bacterial pathogen causing Citrus variegated chlorosis by insect vectors.