Epidemiology and population structure of Xylella fastidiosa, the causal agent of bacterial leaf scorch, among urban trees in the District of Columbia

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A survey of urban trees affected by bacterial leaf scorch caused by Xylella fastidiosa was conducted in the District of Columbia during 2012 and 2013. Disease occurred most frequently with Quercus palustris, Q. rubra, Ulmus americana, and Platanus occidentalis. Eight other symptomatic and five asymptomatic tree species were found infected. The bacterium was also detected on asymptomatic portion of seven tree species. The occurrence of crown dieback was found significantly associated with X. fastidiosa-infection on Q. palustris, Q. rubra, U. americana, and P. occidentalis. A multi-locus sequence typing analysis using 10 housekeeping loci for X. fastidiosa revealed five clonal strains among the urban trees. These strains were host specific, with only one clone being associated with members of the red oak family, American elm, American sycamore, and two clones being associated with mulberry. Long-term management strategies aimed at mitigating the occurrence of bacterial leaf scorch disease are discussed.