Disrupting the Transmission of a Vector-Borne Plant Pathogen
Approaches to control vector-borne diseases rarely focus on the interface between vector and microbial pathogen, but strategies aimed at disrupting the interactions required for transmission may lead to reductions in disease spread. We tested if the vector transmission of the plant-pathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa was affected by three groups of molecules: lectins, carbohydrates, and antibodies. Although not comprehensively characterized, it is known that X. fastidiosa adhesins bind to carbohydrates, and that these interactions are important for initial cell attachment to vectors, which is required for bacterial transmission from host to host. Lectins with affinity to substrates expected to occur on the cuticular surface of vectors colonized by X. fastidiosa, such as wheat germ agglutinin, resulted in statistically significant reductions in transmission rate, as did carbohydrates with N-acetylglucosamine residues. Presumably, lectins bound to receptors on the vector required for cell adhesion/colonization, while carbohydrate-saturated adhesins on X. fastidiosa's cell surface. Furthermore, antibodies against X. fastidiosa whole cells, gum, and afimbrial adhesins also resulted in transmission blockage. However, no treatment resulted in the complete abolishment of transmission, suggesting that this is a complex biological process. This work illustrates the potential to block the transmission of vector-borne pathogens without directly affecting either organism.