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Xylella fastidiosa – Insect Vector Interactions: Current and Potential Future Research Directions

Joao Lopes: Departamento Entomologia e Acarologia, Universidade de São Paulo

<div>Vectors play a major role in epidemiology of diseases caused by <em>Xylella fastidiosa</em>. Information on vector ecology, behavior and transmission sets the basis for identifying key species involved in pathogen spread and approaches to manage the diseases. The bacterium is non-circulative (foregut-borne), lacking latent period and transstadial transmission, but it is persistently-transmitted after acquisition by adults due to biofilm formation and propagation on the vector retention sites (e.g. the cuticular lining of the precibarium). The ability to sequence and transform <em>X. fastidiosa</em>, combined with advanced studies employing functional genomics, vector acquisition of cultured cells from artificial diets, microscopy and PCR-based assays, allowed the development of a model for bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation in the vector´s foregut. Host selection, electrical penetration graph (EPG) and acoustic communication studies have indicated vector behavioral aspects that could be manipulated to manage vector population and/or reduce pathogen transmission. Transmission efficiency is markedly influenced by <em>X. fastidiosa</em> populations in source plants (and maybe in the vectors), suggesting that approaches targeting bacterial growth may be useful to reduce transmission rates. Future research should translate fundamental knowledge of <em>X. fastidiosa</em>-vector-plant interactions into new ways to disrupt the transmission process and generate sustainable management strategies.</div>

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