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PLoS One. 2015 Mar 27;10(3):e0121297. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121297. eCollection 2015.

Population structure of the bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa among street trees in Washington D.C.

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Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States of America.


Bacterial leaf scorch, associated with the bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa, is a widely established and problematic disease of landscape ornamentals in Washington D.C. A multi-locus sequence typing analysis was performed using 10 housekeeping loci for X. fastidiosa strains in order to better understand the epidemiology of leaf scorch disease in this municipal environment. Samples were collected from 7 different tree species located throughout the District of Columbia, consisting of 101 samples of symptomatic and asymptomatic foliage from 84 different trees. Five strains of the bacteria were identified. Consistent with prior data, these strains were host specific, with only one strain associated with members of the red oak family, one strain associated with American elm, one strain associated with American sycamore, and two strains associated with mulberry. Strains found for asymptomatic foliage were the same as strains from the symptomatic foliage on individual trees. Cross transmission of the strains was not observed at sites with multiple species of infected trees within an approx. 25 m radius of one another. X. fastidiosa strain specificity observed for each genus of tree suggests a highly specialized host-pathogen relationship.

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