Citrus Research and Education Center, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, IFAS, 700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred 33850.
Citrus canker caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri is an economically important disease of citrus worldwide. Biofilm formation plays an important role in early infection of X. citri subsp. citri on host leaves. In this study, we assessed the hypothesis that small molecules inhibiting biofilm formation reduce X. citri subsp. citri infection and enhance the control of citrus canker disease. D-leucine and 3-indolylacetonitrile (IAN) were found to prevent biofilm formation by X. citri subsp. citri on different abiotic surfaces and host leaves at a concentration lower than the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis indicated that IAN repressed expression of chemotaxis/motility-related genes in X. citri subsp. citri. In laboratory experiments, planktonic and biofilm cells of X. citri subsp. citri treated with D-leucine and IAN, either alone or in combination, were more susceptible to copper (CuSO4) than those untreated. In greenhouse assays, D-leucine and IAN applied alone or combined with copper reduced both the number of canker lesions and bacterial populations of X. citri subsp. citri on citrus host leaves. This study provides the basis for the use of foliar-applied biofilm inhibitors for the control of citrus canker alone or combined with copper-based bactericides.