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Deciphering how plant pathogenic bacteria disperse and meet: Molecular epidemiology of Xanthomonas citri pv. citri at microgeographic scales in a tropical area of Asiatic citrus canker endemicity

Pruvost O., Boyer K., Ravigné V., Richard D., Vernière C.. 2019. Evolutionary Applications, 12 (8) : p. 1523-1538.

Although some plant pathogenic bacteria represent a significant threat to agriculture, the determinants of their ecological success and evolutionary potential are still poorly understood. Refining our understanding of bacterial strain circulation at small spatial scales and the biological significance and evolutionary consequences of co?infections are key questions. The study of bacterial population biology can be challenging, because it requires high?resolution markers that can be genotyped with a high throughput. Here, we overcame this difficulty for Xanthomonas citri pv. citri, a genetically monomorphic bacterium causing Asiatic citrus canker (ACC). Using a genotyping method that did not require cultivating the bacterium or purifying DNA, we deciphered the pathogen's spatial genetic structure at several microgeographic scales, down to single lesion, in a situation of ACC endemicity. In a grove where copper was recurrently applied for ACC management, copper?susceptible and copper?resistant X. citri pv. citri coexisted and the bacterial population structured as three genetic clusters, suggesting a polyclonal contamination. The range of spatial dependency, estimated for the two largest clusters, was four times greater for the cluster predominantly composed of copper?resistant bacteria. Consistently, the evenness value calculated for this cluster was indicative of increased transmission. Linkage disequilibrium was high even at a tree scale, probably due to a combination of clonality and admixture. Approximately 1% of samples exhibited within?lesion multilocus polymorphism, explained at least in part by polyclonal infections. Canker lesions, which are of major biological significance as an inoculum source, may also represent a preferred niche for horizontal gene transfer. This study points out the potential of genotyping data for estimating the range of spatial dependency of plant bacterial pathogens, an important parameter for guiding disease management strategies.

Thématique : Maladies des plantes

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