Comparison of the genomes of two Xanthomonas pathogens with differing host specificities

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The genus Xanthomonas is a diverse and economically important group of bacterial phytopathogens, belonging to the γ-subdivision of the Proteobacteria. Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri (Xac) causes citrus canker, which affects most commercial citrus cultivars, resulting in significant losses worldwide. Symptoms include canker lesions, leading to abscission of fruit and leaves and general tree decline1. Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc) causes black rot, which affects crucifers such as Brassica and Arabidopsis. Symptoms include marginal leaf chlorosis and darkening of vascular tissue, accompanied by extensive wilting and necrosis2. Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris is grown commercially to produce the exopolysaccharide xanthan gum, which is used as a viscosifying and stabilizing agent in many industries3. Here we report and compare the complete genome sequences of Xac and Xcc. Their distinct disease phenotypes and host ranges belie a high degree of similarity at the genomic level. More than 80% of genes are shared, and gene order is conserved along most of their respective chromosomes. We identified several groups of strain-specific genes, and on the basis of these groups we propose mechanisms that may explain the differing host specificities and pathogenic processes.

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Figure 1: Nucleotide alignment between Xac and Xcc.
Figure 2: Comparative genome map.


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We thank A. M. da Silva, S. Verjovski-Almeida and D. W. Wood for reading of the manuscript; our steering committee (S. Oliver, A. Goffeau, J. Sgouros, A. C. M. Paiva and J. L. Azevedo) for their critical accompaniment; and all the technicians in the sequencing laboratories of ONSA involved in this project. Project funding was from FAPESP, Fundecitrus, Fundect-MS and CNPq.

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Correspondence to A. C. R. da Silva.

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da Silva, A., Ferro, J., Reinach, F. et al. Comparison of the genomes of two Xanthomonas pathogens with differing host specificities. Nature 417, 459–463 (2002) doi:10.1038/417459a

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