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

Functional Characterization of Replication and Stability Factors of an Incompatibility Group P-1 Plasmid from Xylella fastidiosa

  • Author(s): Lee, MW; Rogers, EE; Stenger, DC;
  • Abstract: Xylella fastidiosa strain riv11 harbors a 25-kbp plasmid (pXF-RIV11) belonging to the IncP-1 incompatibility group. Replication and stability factors of pXF-RIV11 were identified and used to construct plasmids able to replicate in X. fastidiosa and Escherichia coli. Replication in X. fastidiosa required a 1.4-kbp region from pXF-RIV11 containing a replication initiation gene (trfA) and the adjacent origin of DNA replication (oriV). Constructs containing trfA and oriV from pVEIS01, a related IncP-1 plasmid of the earthworm symbiont Verminephrobacter eiseniae, also were competent for replication in X. fastidiosa. Constructs derived from pXF-RIV11 but not pVEIS01 replicated in Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Xanthomonas campestris, and Pseudomonas syringae. Although plasmids bearing replication elements from pXF-RIV11 or pVEIS01 could be maintained in X. fastidiosa under antibiotic selection, removal of selection resulted in plasmid extinction after 3 weekly passages. Addition of a toxin-antitoxin addiction system (pemI/pemK) from pXF-RIV11 improved plasmid stability such that >80 to 90% of X. fastidiosa cells retained plasmid after 5 weekly passages in the absence of antibiotic selection. Expression of PemK in E. coli was toxic for cell growth, but toxicity was nullified by coexpression of PemI antitoxin. Deletion of N-terminal sequences of PemK containing the conserved motif RGD abolished toxicity. In vitro assays revealed a direct interaction of PemI with PemK, suggesting that antitoxin activity of PemI is mediated by toxin sequestration. IncP-1 plasmid replication and stability factors were added to an E. coli cloning vector to constitute a stable 6.0-kbp shuttle vector (pXF20-PEMIK) suitable for use in X. fastidiosa.
  • Publication Date: Dec 2010
  • Journal: Applied And Environmental Microbiology