Expression of green fluorescent protein in Xylella fastidiosa is affected by passage through host plants
Xylella fastidiosa, a Gram-negative bacterial plant pathogen, causes Pierce's disease of C Grapevine in North America. In South America the pathogen causes citrus variegated chlorosis, which is widespread in Brazil. We have introduced into Xylella fastidiosa a mini-Tn5 transposon that encodes a green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene optimized for expression in bacteria. The mini-Tn5 derivative was inserted into different sites of the genome in independent transconjugants as determined by Southern blotting. The GFP gene was expressed well and to different levels in different transconjugants. Four independent transconjugants were separately used to inoculate sweet orange and tobacco seedlings. The transconjugants were able to colonize the plants and were subsequently isolated from points distal to the inoculation sites. When the relative fluorescence of the transconjugants that had been passed through either tobacco or sweet orange was compared with that of the same transconjugant maintained continuously in vitro, we observed that passage through either plant host significantly increased the level of expression of the GFP. The increased level of expression of GFP was transient, and was lost upon further culture in vitro. Xylella fastidiosa forms biofilms in planta which are believed to represent a metabolically differentiated state. The increased expression of GFP observed after passage through plants may be accounted for by this phenomenon.