Nicotiana tabacum as an experimental host for the study of plant-Xylella fastidiosa interactions
Xylella fastidiosa causes citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC). Information generated from the X. fastidiosa genome project is being used to study the underlying mechanisms responsible for pathogenicity. However, the lack of an experimental host other than citrus to study plant-X. fastidiosa interaction has been an obstacle to accelerated progress in this area. We present here results of three experiments that demonstrated that tobacco could be an important experimental host for X. fastidiosa. All tobacco plants inoculated with a citrus strain of X. fastidiosa expressed unequivocal symptoms, consisting of orange leaf lesions, approximately 2 months after injection of the pathogen. CVC symptoms were observed in citrus 3 to 6 months after inoculation. The pathogen was readily detected in symptomatic tobacco plants by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and phase contrast microscopy. In addition, X. fastidiosa was reisolated on agar plates in 4 of 10 plants. Scanning electron microscopy analysis of cross sections of stems and petioles revealed the presence of rod shaped bacteria restricted to the xylem of inoculated plants. The cell size was within the limit typical of X. fastidiosa.