Pierce's Disease
Research Updates


What is Pierce's Disease?

Pierce's Disease is a bacterial infection, which is spread by bugs that feed on grapevines, particularly the "glassy winged sharpshooter." Grapevines that become infected with PD can quickly become sick and die.

glassy-winged sharpshooter

Scanning electron Microscopy reveals different response pattern of four Vitis genotypes to Xylella fastidiosa infection

  • Author(s): Fritschi, FB; Lin, H; Walker, MA;
  • Abstract: The xylem-limited bacterium Xylella fastidiosa causes Pierce's disease (PD), whose disease symptoms are primarily the result of xylem vessel blockage in susceptible grapevines. Stein internode and petiole tissues from infected and uninfected control plants of four grape genotypes (Vitis vinifera, V. rufotomentosa, V. smalliana, and V. arizonica/candicans) differing in PD susceptibility were examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Tyloses, fibrillar networks, and gum plugs were observed in lumens of tracheary elements in petioles and internodes of both water-inoculated control plants and X. fastidiosa-inoculated plants of all genotypes. Bacteria were not observed in control plants. In both petiole and internode tissues, the greatest number of occluded xylem vessels were observed in V. vinifera and the smallest number in V arizonica/candicans. The number of xylem vessels infested with X. fastidiosa was greatest in V vinifera and did not differ among the other three genotypes. Systemic infection was found in all genotypes. The frequency with which X. fastidiosa infested vessels were observed using SEM corresponded well with bacterial levels estimated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Among infected plants, tylose formation in internodes was lowest in V. arizonica/candicans and did not differ among the other three genotypes. Infection with X. fastidiosa strongly induced tylose formation in V. vinifera and V. smalliana but not in V. arizonica/candicans. Analysis across tissues and genotypes indicated an induction of fibrillar networks and gum occlusions in response to X. fastidiosa infection, whereas treatment comparisons within genotypes were not significant except for V. vinifera petioles. Limiting the spread of X. fastidiosa infection by xylem conduit occlusions does not appear to be the mechanism conferring PD resistance or tolerance to V. arizonica/candicans, V smalliana, or V. rufotomentosa. In contrast, the strong induction of tyloses may be detrimental rather than beneficial for V. vinifera survival after X. fastidiosa infection.
  • Publication Date: Feb 2008
  • Journal: Plant Disease