Polysaccharide Compositions of Intervessel Pit Membranes Contribute to Pierce's Disease Resistance of Grapevines

Text - scientific article/review article


Symptom development of Pierce's disease (PD) in grapevine (Vitis vinifera) depends largely on the ability of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa to use cell wall-degrading enzymes (CWDEs) to break up intervessel pit membranes (PMs) and spread through the vessel system. In this study, an immunohistochemical technique was developed to analyze pectic and hemicellulosic polysaccharides of intervessel PMs. Our results indicate that PMs of grapevine genotypes with different PD resistance differed in the composition and structure of homogalacturonans (HGs) and xyloglucans (XyGs), the potential targets of the pathogen's CWDEs. The PMs of PD-resistant grapevine genotypes lacked fucosylated XyGs and weakly methyl-esterified HGs (ME-HGs), and contained a small amount of heavily ME-HGs. In contrast, PMs of PD-susceptible genotypes all had substantial amounts of fucosylated XyGs and weakly ME-HGs, but lacked heavily ME-HGs. The intervessel PM integrity and the pathogen's distribution in Xylella-infected grapevines also showed differences among the genotypes. In pathogen-inoculated, PD-resistant genotypes PM integrity was well maintained and Xylella cells were only found close to the inoculation site. However, in inoculated PD-susceptible genotypes, PMs in the vessels associated with bacteria lost their integrity and the systemic presence of the X. fastidiosa pathogen was confirmed. Our analysis also provided a relatively clear understanding of the process by which intervessel PMs are degraded. All of these observations support the conclusion that weakly ME-HGs and fucosylated XyGs are substrates of the pathogen's CWDEs and their presence in or absence from PMs may contribute to grapevine's PD susceptibility.


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  • Vitaceae
  • Vitis vinifera
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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