Expression of Xylella fastidiosa RpfF in Citrus Disrupts Signaling in Xanthomonas citri subsp citri and Thereby Its Virulence
Xylella fastidiosa and Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri, that cause citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) and citrus canker diseases, respectively, utilize diffusible signal factor (DSF) for quorum sensing. DSF, produced by RpfF, are similar fatty acids in both organisms, although a different set of genes is regulated by DSF in each species. Because of this similarity, Xylella fastidiosa DSF might be recognized and affect the biology of Xanthomonas citri. Therefore, transgenic Citrus sinensis and Carrizo citrange plants over-expressing the Xylella fastidiosa rpfF were inoculated with Xanthomonas citri and changes in symptoms of citrus canker were observed. X. citri biofilms formed only at wound sites on transgenic leaves and were thicker; however, bacteria were unable to break through the tissue and form pustules elsewhere. Although abundant growth of X. citri occurred at wound sites on inoculated transgenic leaves, little growth was observed on unwounded tissue. Genes in the DFS-responsive core in X. citri were downregulated in bacteria isolated from transgenic leaves. DSF-dependent expression of engA was suppressed in cells exposed to xylem sap from transgenic plants. Thus, altered symptom development appears to be due to reduced expression of virulence genes because of the presence of antagonists of DSF signaling in X. citri in ipfF-expressing plants.