Background: Citrus canker is a disease that has severe economic impact on the citrus industry worldwide. There are three types of canker, called A, B, and C. The three types have different phenotypes and affect different citrus species. The causative agent for type A is Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri, whose genome sequence was made available in 2002. Xanthomonas fuscans subsp. aurantifolii strain B causes canker B and Xanthomonas fuscans subsp. aurantifolii strain C causes canker C.
Results: We have sequenced the genomes of strains B and C to draft status. We have compared their genomic content to X. citri subsp. citri and to other Xanthomonas genomes, with special emphasis on type III secreted effector repertoires. In addition to pthA, already known to be present in all three citrus canker strains, two additional effector genes, xopE3 and xopAI, are also present in all three strains and are both located on the same putative genomic island. These two effector genes, along with one other effector-like gene in the same region, are thus good candidates for being pathogenicity factors on citrus. Numerous gene content differences also exist between the three cankers strains, which can be correlated with their different virulence and host range. Particular attention was placed on the analysis of genes involved in biofilm formation and quorum sensing, type IV secretion, flagellum synthesis and motility, lipopolysacharide synthesis, and on the gene xacPNP, which codes for a natriuretic protein.
Conclusion: We have uncovered numerous commonalities and differences in gene content between the genomes of the pathogenic agents causing citrus canker A, B, and C and other Xanthomonas genomes. Molecular genetics can now be employed to determine the role of these genes in plant-microbe interactions. The gained knowledge will be instrumental for improving citrus canker control.