Asmae Jlilat, Rosa Ragone, Stefania Gualano, Franco Santoro, Vito Gallo, Leonardo Varvaro, Piero Mastrorilli, Maria Saponari, Franco Nigro & Anna Maria D’Onghia.
13 January 2021
In the last decade, the bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa has devastated olive trees throughout Apulia region (Southern Italy) in the form of the disease called “Olive Quick Decline Syndrome” (OQDS). This study describes changes in the metabolic profile due to the infection by X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca ST53 in artificially inoculated young olive plants of the susceptible variety Cellina di Nardò. The test plants, grown in a thermo-conditioned greenhouse, were also co-inoculated with some xylem-inhabiting fungi known to largely occur in OQDS-affected trees, in order to partially reproduce field conditions in terms of biotic stress. The investigations were performed by combining NMR spectroscopy and MS spectrometry with a non-targeted approach for the analysis of leaf extracts. Statistical analysis revealed that Xylella-infected plants were characterized by higher amounts of malic acid, formic acid, mannitol, and sucrose than in Xylella-non-infected ones, whereas it revealed slightly lower amounts of oleuropein. Attention was paid to mannitol which may play a central role in sustaining the survival of the olive tree against bacterial infection. This study contributes to describe a set of metabolites playing a possible role as markers in the infections by X. fastidiosa in olive.