Molecular Profiling of Pierce's Disease Outlines the Response Circuitry of Vitis vinifera to Xylella fastidiosa Infection

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Pierce's disease is a major threat to grapevines caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. Although devoid of a type 3 secretion system commonly employed by bacterial pathogens to deliver effectors inside host cells, this pathogen is able to influence host parenchymal cells from the xylem lumen by secreting a battery of hydrolytic enzymes. Defining the cellular and biochemical changes induced during disease can foster the development of novel therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing the pathogen fitness and increasing plant health. To this end, we investigated the transcriptional, proteomic, and metabolomic responses of diseased Vitis vinifera compared to healthy plants. We found that several antioxidant strategies were induced, including the accumulation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and polyamine metabolism, as well as iron and copper chelation, but these were insufficient to protect the plant from chronic oxidative stress and disease symptom development. Notable upregulation of phytoalexins, pathogenesis-related proteins, and various aromatic acid metabolites was part of the host responses observed. Moreover, upregulation of various cell wall modification enzymes followed the proliferation of the pathogen within xylem vessels, consistent with the intensive thickening of vessels' secondary walls observed by magnetic resonance imaging. By interpreting the molecular profile changes taking place in symptomatic tissues, we report a set of molecular markers that can be further explored to aid in disease detection, breeding for resistance, and developing therapeutics.


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  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Botrytis cinerea
  • Vitis vinifera
  • Xanthomonadaceae
  • Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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