What is Pierce's Disease?

Pierce’s Disease is a bacterial infection, which is spread by bugs that feed on grapevines, particularly the "glassy winged sharpshooter." Grapevines that become infected with PD can quickly become sick and die.

Identification of an Operon, Pil-Chp, That Controls Twitching Motility and Virulence in Xylella fastidiosa


  • Author(s): Athinuwat, D; Burr, TJ; Cursino, L; De La Fuente, L; Galvani, CD; Hoch, HC; Li, YX; Mowery, P; Zaini, PA;
  • Abstract: Xylella fastidiosa is an important phytopathogenic bacterium that causes many serious plant diseases, including Pierce's disease of grapevines. Disease manifestation by X. fastidiosa is associated with the expression of several factors, including the type IV pili that are required for twitching motility. We provide evidence that an operon, named Pil-Chp, with genes homologous to those found in chemotaxis systems, regulates twitching motility. Transposon insertion into the pilL gene of the operon resulted in loss of twitching motility (pilL is homologous to cheA genes encoding kinases). The X. fastidiosa mutant maintained the type IV pili, indicating that the disrupted pilL or downstream operon genes are involved in pili function, and not biogenesis. The mutated X. fastidiosa produced less biofilm than wild-type cells, indicating that the operon contributes to biofilm formation. Finally, in planta the mutant produced delayed and less severe disease, indicating that the Pil-Chp operon contributes to the virulence of X. fastidiosa, presumably through its role in twitching motility.
  • Publication Date: Oct 2011
  • Journal: Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions