A cloned 4.1-kb EcoRI fragment from Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris was previously shown to complement the non-mucoid mutant P22 and increase xanthan gum production after being transformed into the wild-type strain Xc17. The gene responsible for these effects was identified, sequenced, and shown to be the gumD gene which has previously been proposed to encode glucose transferase activity, an enzyme required for adding the first glucose residue to the isoprenoid glycosyl carrier lipid during xanthan synthesis. A gumD mutant, isolated from Xc17 by gene replacement, was shown to possess altered pigment xanthomonadin profiles and exhibit reduced virulence in causing black rot in broccoli. This study appears to be the first to demonstrate that interruption of a gene required for xanthan synthesis can lead to reduced virulence of X. campestris.