Transcriptome and Secretome Analyses of Endophyte Methylobacterium mesophilicum and Pathogen Xylella fastidiosa Interacting Show Nutrient Competition

Microorganisms. 2023 Nov 11;11(11):2755. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms11112755.


Xylella fastidiosa is the causal agent of several plant diseases affecting fruit and nut crops. Methylobacterium mesophilicum strain SR1.6/6 was isolated from Citrus sinensis and shown to promote plant growth by producing phytohormones, providing nutrients, inhibiting X. fastidiosa, and preventing Citrus Variegated Chlorosis. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in the interaction among these microbes are still unclear. The present work aimed to analyze physiological and molecular aspects of M. mesophilicum SR1.6/6 and X. fastidiosa 9a5c in co-culture. The transcriptome and secretome analyses indicated that X. fastidiosa down-regulates cell division and transport genes and up-regulates stress via induction of chaperones and pathogenicity-related genes including, the lipase-esterase LesA, a protease, as well as an oligopeptidase in response to M. mesophilicum competition. On the other hand, M. mesophilicum also down-regulated transport genes, except for iron uptake, which was up-regulated. Secretome analysis identified four proteins in M. mesophilicum exclusively produced in co-culture with X. fastidiosa, among these, three are related to phosphorous uptake. These results suggest that M. mesophilicum inhibits X. fastidiosa growth mainly due to nutrient competition for iron and phosphorous, thus promoting X. fastidiosa starvation, besides producing enzymes that degrade X. fastidiosa cell wall, mainly hydrolases. The understanding of these interactions provides a direction for control and management of the phytopathogen X. fastidiosa, and consequently, helps to improve citrus growth and productivity.

Keywords: citrus; endophytic bacteria; phytopathogen–endophyte interaction; secretome; transcriptome.