Xanthomonas is a large genus of bacteria that collectively cause disease on more than 300 plant species. The broad host range of the genus contrasts with stringent host and tissue specificity for individual species and pathovars. Whole-genome sequences of Xanthomonas campestris pv. raphani strain 756C and X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strain BLS256, pathogens that infect the mesophyll tissue of the leading models for plant biology, Arabidopsis thaliana and rice, respectively, were determined and provided insight into the genetic determinants of host and tissue specificity. Comparisons were made with genomes of closely related strains that infect the vascular tissue of the same hosts and across a larger collection of complete Xanthomonas genomes. The results suggest a model in which complex sets of adaptations at the level of gene content account for host specificity and subtler adaptations at the level of amino acid or noncoding regulatory nucleotide sequence determine tissue specificity.
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