Clarifying the taxonomy of the causal agent of bacterial leaf spot of lettuce through a polyphasic approach reveals that Xanthomonas cynarae trébaol et al. 2000 emend. timilsina et al. 2019 is a later heterotypic synonym of Xanthomonas hortorum vauterin et al. 1995.
Assessment of the taxonomy and diversity of Xanthomonas strains causing bacterial leaf spot of lettuce (BLSL), commonly referred to as Xanthomonas campestris pv. vitians, has been a long-lasting issue which held back the global efforts made to understand this pathogen. In order to provide a sound basis essential to its study, we conducted a polyphasic approach on strains obtained through sampling campaigns or acquired from collections. Results of a multilocus sequence analysis crossed with phenotypic assays revealed that the pathotype strain does not match the description of the nomenspecies provided by Brown in 1918. However, strain LMG 938 = CFBP 8686 does fit this description. Therefore, we propose that it replaces LMG 937 = CFBP 2538 as pathotype strain of X. campestris pv. vitians. Then, whole-genome based phylogenies and overall genome relatedness indices calculated on taxonomically relevant strains exhibited the intermediate position of X. campestris pv. vitians between closely related species Xanthomonas hortorum and Xanthomonas cynarae. Phenotypic profiles characterized using Biolog microplates did not reveal stable diagnostic traits legitimizing their distinction. Therefore, we propose that X. cynarae Trébaol et al. 2000 emend. Timilsina et al. 2019 is a later heterotypic synonym of X. hortorum, to reclassify X. campestris pv. vitians as X. hortorum pv. vitians comb. nov. and to transfer X. cynarae pathovars in X. hortorum as X. hortorum pv. cynarae comb. nov. and X. hortorum pv. gardneri comb. nov. An emended description of X. hortorum is provided, making this extended species a promising model for the study of Xanthomonas quick adaptation to different hosts.