Persister cells form in the plant pathogen xanthomonas citri subsp. Citri under different stress conditions

Paula M.M. Martins, Thomas K. Wood, Alessandra A. de Souza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Citrus canker disease, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri is a constant threat to citrus-producing areas. Since it has no cure, agricultural practices to restrain its dissemination are essential to reduce the economic damage. Hence, increased knowledge of the basic aspects of X. citri biology could lead to more efficient management practices that can eliminate dormant bacteria in the field. The dormant cells, also referred to as persisters, are phenotypic variants with lowered metabolism, which in turn leads to tolerance to antimicrobials and undermines existing control approaches. We show here that X. citri forms persisters, identifying triggers for this phenotype, including antibiotics, high temperature, and metals (copper and zinc), which increase persistence rates by 10–100 times. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine reduced copper and zinc-induced persisters, but not those induced by tetracycline, indicating that oxidative stress may be an important inducer of X. citri persistence. In addition, we found that metabolism-independent drugs like cisplatin and mitomycin C are able to eliminate X. citri persistent cells, as well as copper, at high concentrations. Specific amino acids like proline and isoleucine interfered with the physiological balance of the dormancy in X. citri, stimulating or preventing persister resuscitation. Taken together, we discover chemicals that can induce, wake, and kill X. citri persister cells; these results provide insights that should be considered for more efficient integrated control management in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number384
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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