Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri type IV Pilus is required for twitching motility, biofilm development, and adherence

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2014 Oct;27(10):1132-47. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-06-14-0184-R.


Bacterial type IV pili (T4P) are long, flexible surface filaments that consist of helical polymers of mostly pilin subunits. Cycles of polymerization, attachment, and depolymerization mediate several pilus-dependent bacterial behaviors, including twitching motility, surface adhesion, pathogenicity, natural transformation, escape from immune system defense mechanisms, and biofilm formation. The Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri strain 306 genome codes for a large set of genes involved in T4P biogenesis and regulation and includes several pilin homologs. We show that X. citri subsp. citri can exhibit twitching motility in a manner similar to that observed in other bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Xylella fastidiosa and that this motility is abolished in Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri knockout strains in the genes coding for the major pilin subunit PilAXAC3241, the ATPases PilBXAC3239 and PilTXAC2924, and the T4P biogenesis regulators PilZXAC1133 and FimXXAC2398. Microscopy analyses were performed to compare patterns of bacterial migration in the wild-type and knockout strains and we observed that the formation of mushroom-like structures in X. citri subsp. citri biofilm requires a functional T4P. Finally, infection of X. citri subsp. citri cells by the bacteriophage (ΦXacm4-11 is T4P dependent. The results of this study improve our understanding of how T4P influence Xanthomonas motility, biofilm formation, and susceptibility to phage infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteriophages / physiology
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Citrus / microbiology*
  • Fimbriae Proteins / genetics
  • Fimbriae Proteins / metabolism
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / genetics
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Movement
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Xanthomonas / cytology
  • Xanthomonas / genetics
  • Xanthomonas / growth & development
  • Xanthomonas / physiology*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • Fimbriae Proteins