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Genetic differentiation of Xylella fastidiosa following the introduction into Taiwan


The economically important plant pathogen Xylella fastidiosa has been reported in multiple regions of the globe during the last two decades, threatening a growing list of plants. Particularly, X. fastidiosa subspecies fastidiosa causes Pierce's disease (PD) of grapevines, which is a problem in the USA, Spain, and Taiwan. In this work, we studied PD-causing subsp. fastidiosa populations and compared the genome sequences of 33 isolates found in Central Taiwan with 171 isolates from the USA and two from Spain. Phylogenetic relationships, haplotype networks, and genetic diversity analyses confirmed that subsp. fastidiosa was recently introduced into Taiwan from the Southeast USA (i.e. the PD-I lineage). Recent core-genome recombination events were detected among introduced subsp. fastidiosa isolates in Taiwan and contributed to the development of genetic diversity. The genetic diversity observed includes contributions through recombination from unknown donors, suggesting that higher genetic diversity exists in the region. Nevertheless, no recombination event was detected between X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa and the endemic sister species Xylella taiwanensis, which is the causative agent of pear leaf scorch disease. In summary, this study improved our understanding of the genetic diversity of an important plant pathogenic bacterium after its invasion to a new region.

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