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1.  The Bacterial Pathogen Xylella fastidiosa Affects the Leaf Ionome of Plant Hosts during Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62945.
Xylella fastidiosa is a plant pathogenic bacterium that lives inside the host xylem vessels, where it forms biofilm believed to be responsible for disrupting the passage of water and nutrients. Here, Nicotiana tabacum was infected with X. fastidiosa, and the spatial and temporal changes in the whole-leaf ionome (i.e. the mineral and trace element composition) were measured as the host plant transitioned from healthy to diseased physiological status. The elemental composition of leaves was used as an indicator of the physiological changes in the host at a specific time and relative position during plant development. Bacterial infection was found to cause significant increases in concentrations of calcium prior to the appearance of symptoms and decreases in concentrations of phosphorous after symptoms appeared. Field-collected leaves from multiple varieties of grape, blueberry, and pecan plants grown in different locations over a four-year period in the Southeastern US showed the same alterations in Ca and P. This descriptive ionomics approach characterizes the existence of a mineral element-based response to X. fastidiosa using a model system suitable for further manipulation to uncover additional details of the role of mineral elements during plant-pathogen interactions. This is the first report on the dynamics of changes in the ionome of the host plant throughout the process of infection by a pathogen.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062945
PMCID: PMC3646994  PMID: 23667547
2.  Natural Migration of Rotylenchulus reniformis In a No-Till Cotton System 
Journal of Nematology  2010;42(4):307-312.
Rotylenchulus reniformis is the most damaging nematode pathogen of cotton in Alabama. It is easily introduced into cotton fields via contaminated equipment and, when present, is difficult and costly to control. A trial to monitor the natural migration of R. reniformis from an initial point of origin was established in 2007 and studied over two growing seasons in both irrigated and non-irrigated no-till cotton production systems. Vermiform females, juveniles and males reached a horizontal distance of 200 cm from the initial inoculation point, and a depth of 91 cm in the first season in both systems. Irrigation had no effect on the migration of vermiform females and juveniles, but males migrated faster in the irrigated trial than in the non-irrigated trial. Population density increased steadily in the irrigated trial during both years, exceeding the economic threshold of 1,000 per 150 cm3, but was highly correlated with rainfall in the non-irrigated trial. The average speed of migration ranged from 0- to 3.3-cm per day over 150 days. R. reniformis was able to establish in both the irrigated and non-irrigated trials in one season and to increase population density significantly.
PMCID: PMC3380523  PMID: 22736863
Behavior; cotton; Gossypium hirsutum; host-parasite relationship; movement; no-till; population dynamics; root growth; Rotylenchulus reniformis
3.  Using FAME Analysis to Compare, Differentiate, and Identify Multiple Nematode Species 
Journal of Nematology  2009;41(3):163-173.
We have adapted the Sherlock® Microbial Identification system for identification of plant parasitic nematodes based on their fatty acid profiles. Fatty acid profiles of 12 separate plant parasitic nematode species have been determined using this system. Additionally, separate profiles have been developed for Rotylenchulus reniformis and Meloidogyne incognita based on their host plant, four species and three races within the Meloidogyne genus, and three life stages of Heterodera glycines. Statistically, 85% of these profiles can be delimited from one another; the specific comparisons between the cyst and vermiform stages of H. glycines, M. hapla and M. arenaria, and M. arenaria and M. javanica cannot be segregated using canonical analysis. By incorporating each of these fatty acid profiles into the Sherlock® Analysis Software, 20 library entries were created. While there was some similarity among profiles, all entries correctly identified the proper organism to genus, species, race, life stage, and host at greater than 86% accuracy. The remaining 14% were correctly identified to genus, although species and race may not be correct due to the underlying variables of host or life stage. These results are promising and indicate that this library could be used for diagnostics labs to increase response time.
PMCID: PMC3380492  PMID: 22736811
biochemistry; FAME analysis; identification; Meloidogyne spp.; Meloidogyne arenaria; Meloidogyne hapla; Meloidogyne incognita; Meloidogyne javanica; Rotylenchulus reniformis; Heterodera glycines

Results 1-3 (3)