Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Genetic diversity of citrus bacterial canker pathogens preserved in herbarium specimens.

Abstract

Citrus bacterial canker (CBC) caused by Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri (Xac) was first documented in India and Java in the mid 19th century. Since that time, the known distribution of the disease has steadily increased. Concurrent with the dispersion of the pathogen, the diversity of described strains continues to increase, with novel strains appearing in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Florida in the last decade. Herbarium specimens of infected plants provide an historical record documenting both the geographic distribution and genetic diversity of the pathogen in the past. However, no method was available to assess the genetic diversity within these herbarium samples. We have developed a method, insertion event scanning (IES), and applied the method to characterize the diversity present within CBC populations documented as herbarium specimens over the past century. IES is based on the specific amplification of junction fragments that define insertion events. The potential for IES in current forensic applications is demonstrated by finding an exact match of pathogen genotypes preserved in herbarium specimens from Japan and Florida, demonstrating the source of the original outbreak of citrus canker in Florida in 1911. IES is a very sensitive technique for differentiating bacterial strains and can be applied to any of the several hundred bacteria for which full genomic sequence data are available.