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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Apr;76(7):2234-42. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02897-09. Epub 2010 Jan 29.

Requirement of the galU gene for polysaccharide production by and pathogenicity and growth In Planta of Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri.

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Citrus Research and Education Center, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida/IFAS, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850, USA.


Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri is the causal agent of citrus canker, which has a significant impact on citrus production. In this study, we characterized the galU gene of X. citri subsp. citri. Two galU mutants (F6 and D12) were identified in an X. citri subsp. citri EZ-Tn5 <R6Kgammaori/KAN-2> Tnp transposon library. Rescue cloning, sequence analysis, and Southern blot analysis indicated that both of these mutants had a single copy of the EZ-Tn5 transposon inserted in galU in the chromosome. Further study showed that galU was required for biosynthesis of extracellular polysaccharides (EPS; xanthan gum) and capsular polysaccharide (CPS) and biofilm formation. Mutation of galU resulted in a loss of pathogenicity for grapefruit. The loss of pathogenicity of a galU mutant resulted from its inability to grow in planta rather than from the effect on virulence genes. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR assays indicated that mutation of galU did not impair the expression of key virulence genes, such as pthA of X. citri subsp. citri. Although D12 had a growth rate similar to that of the wild-type strain in nutrient broth, no D12 population became established in the intercellular spaces of citrus leaves. Coinoculation of a galU mutant with the wild-type strain did not promote growth of the galU mutant in planta. Defects in EPS and CPS production, pathogenicity, and growth in planta of the galU mutant were complemented to the wild-type level using plasmid pCGU2.1 containing an intact galU gene. These data indicate that the galU gene contributes to X. citri subsp. citri growth in intercellular spaces and is involved in EPS and CPS synthesis and biofilm formation.

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