The endophyte Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens reduces symptoms caused by Xylella fastidiosa in Catharanthus roseus
Citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC) is a disease of the sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.)], which is caused by Xylella fastidiosa subsp: pauca, a phytopathogenic bacterium that has been shown to infect all sweet orange cultivars. Sweet orange trees have been occasionally observed to be infected by Xylella fastidiosa without evidencing severe disease symptoms, whereas other trees in the same grove may exhibit severe disease symptoms. The principal endophytic bacterial species isolated from such CVC-asymptomatic citrus plants is Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens. The Madagascar periwinkle [Citrus sinensis (L.)] is a model plant which has been used to study X. fastidiosa in greenhouse environments. In order to characterize the interactions of X. fastidiosa and C. flaccumfaciens, periwinkle plants were inoculated separately with C. flaccumfaciens, X. fastidiosa, and both bacteria together. The number of flowers produced by the plants, the heights of the plants, and the exhibited disease symptoms were evaluated. PCR-primers for C. flaccumfaciens were designed in order to verify the presence of this endophytic bacterium in plant tissue, and to complement an existing assay for X. fastidiosa. These primers were capable of detecting C. flaccumfaciens in the periwinkle in the presence of X. fastidiosa. X. fastidiosa induced stunting and reduced the number of flowers produced by the periwinkle. When C. flaccumfaciens was inoculated together with X. fastidiosa, no stunting was observed. The number of flowers produced by our doubly-inoculated plants was an intermediate between the number produced by the plants inoculated with either of the bacteria separately. Our data indicate that C. flaccumfaciens interacted with X. fastidiosa in C. roseus, and reduced the severity of the disease symptoms induced by X. fastidiosa. Periwinkle is considered to be an excellent experimental system by which the interaction of C. flaccumfaciens and other endophytic bacteria with X. fastidiosa can be studied.