The Bacterial Pathogen Xylella fastidiosa Affects the Leaf Ionome of Plant Hosts during Infection
Xylella fastidiosa is a plant pathogenic bacterium that lives inside the host xylem vessels, where it forms biofilm believed to be responsible for disrupting the passage of water and nutrients. Here, Nicotiana tabacum was infected with X. fastidiosa, and the spatial and temporal changes in the whole-leaf ionome (i.e. the mineral and trace element composition) were measured as the host plant transitioned from healthy to diseased physiological status. The elemental composition of leaves was used as an indicator of the physiological changes in the host at a specific time and relative position during plant development. Bacterial infection was found to cause significant increases in concentrations of calcium prior to the appearance of symptoms and decreases in concentrations of phosphorous after symptoms appeared. Field-collected leaves from multiple varieties of grape, blueberry, and pecan plants grown in different locations over a four-year period in the Southeastern US showed the same alterations in Ca and P. This descriptive ionomics approach characterizes the existence of a mineral element-based response to X. fastidiosa using a model system suitable for further manipulation to uncover additional details of the role of mineral elements during plant-pathogen interactions. This is the first report on the dynamics of changes in the ionome of the host plant throughout the process of infection by a pathogen.