SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.49 suppl.1Biocontrol potential of saline- or alkaline-tolerant Trichoderma asperellum mutants against three pathogenic fungi under saline or alkaline stress conditionsRio Negro virophage: Sequencing of the near complete genome and transmission electron microscopy of viral factories and particles author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Brazilian Journal of Microbiology

Print version ISSN 1517-8382On-line version ISSN 1678-4405

Braz. J. Microbiol. vol.49  supl.1 São Paulo  2018 

Bacterial, Fungal and Virus Molecular Biology

Molecular methods for diversity assessment among xanthomonads of Bulgarian and Macedonian pepper

Taca Vanchevaa  * 

Mariya Stoyanovab 

Elena Tasheva-Terzievaa 

Nevena Bogatzevskab 

Penka Monchevaa 

aFaculty of Biology, Sofia University ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’, Sofia, Bulgaria

bInstitute of Soil Science, Agrotechnologies and Plant Protection ‘Nikola Pushkarov’, Sofia, Bulgaria


Bacterial spot is an important disease of pepper in Bulgaria and Macedonia. For characterization of Xanthomonas species associated with bacterial spot, 161 strains were collected from various field pepper-growing regions. Among them, 131 strains were identified as Xanthomonas euvesicatoria and 30 as Xanthomonas vesicatoria using species-specific primers and polymerase chain reaction followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. To assess the genetic diversity of the strains, two methods (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA and Repetitive Element Palindromic-Polymerase Chain Reaction) were applied. Discriminatory index was calculated and analysis of molecular variance was carried out.Combined random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis of the X. euvesicatoria strains with primers CUGEA-4 and CUGEA-6 had greater discriminative power (0.60) than repetitive element palindromic-polymerase chain reaction with ERIC and BOX A1R primers, which makes this method applicable for strain diversity evaluation. Discrimination among the X. vesicatoria strains was achieved by the use of ERIC primers and only for the Bulgarian strains. The results demonstrated that X. euvesicatoria was more diverse than X. vesicatoria and heterogeneity was observed mainly in the Bulgarian populations. According to the analysis of molecular variance, genetic variations in X. euvesicatoria were observed among and within populations from different regions, while the differences between the two countries were minor. Following the principal coordinates analysis, a relation between the climatic conditions of the regions and a genetic distance of the populations may be suggested.

Keywords Bacterial spot; RFLP; RAPD; REP-PCR; Heterogeneity


Bacterial spot is one of the most serious diseases of pepper (Capsicum annum L.) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) plants worldwide. In areas with warm and humid weather conditions, the disease can be destructive to pepper and tomato seedlings and can result in total crop loss. Plant debris and contaminated seeds are the most common source of primary infection.1 To date, three genetically and phenotypically distinct pathogens have been defined as causative agents of bacterial spot: Xanthomonas euvesicatoria (including the former Xanthomonas perforans species), Xanthomonas vesicatoria, and Xanthomonas gardneri.2,3X. euvesicatoria and X. gardneri have been isolated from both symptomatic tomato and pepper, X. vesicatoria primarily from tomato and X. perforans, until recently, only from tomato.4,5 The X. euvesicatoria strains were reported as more aggressive on pepper plants and in several countries as the prevalent pathogen.48

In Bulgaria and Macedonia, bacterial spot is a common disease on pepper plants and was first described in 1963 in Bulgaria and in 1999 in Macedonia.9,10 Control of the disease mostly relies on sanitation, cultural practices, including the use of pathogen-free seeds and chemical control by using copper and streptomycin sprays. Characterization of the population structure, diversity, and evolution are the main factors for understanding the pathogen biology and providing information necessary for the development of effective means for disease control. Families of repetitive DNA sequences found in all prokaryotes, such as repetitive extragenic palindromic sequences (rep), BOX elements, and enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus (ERIC), as well as random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis have been used for determination of variability within the species of several genera.1115 The amplification reaction using random oligomeric primers (RAPD-PCR) has been employed for analysis of genetic variations in different Xanthomonas species.1619

Even though bacterial spot pathogens have been classified as A2 quarantine organisms by the EPPO (European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization) and the disease has been reported in many countries, there is not much data available on the structure and diversity of the pathogen populations.

This study aimed to investigate the heterogeneity in the populations of the species causing bacterial spot on pepper in Bulgaria and Macedonia, and the application of different methods for evaluation of diversity.

Materials and methods


The bacteria evaluated in this work (161 pathogenic strains) were collected from field grown pepper originating from Bulgaria and Macedonia in the period 1999–2013 (Table 1). The strains were isolated from leaves, petioles, fruits, and flowers with symptoms of bacterial spot (single small necrotic spots or large water-soaked necrotic spots on leaves, ring necrosis on petioles, necrotic scabs on fruits, and brown necrotic flowers with bacterial exudates). The type cultures X. vesicatoria NBIMCC 2427 (DSM-22252), X. euvesicatoria NBIMCC 8731 (DSM-19128), X. perforans NBIMCC 8729 (DSM-18975) and X. gardneri NBIMCC 8730 (DSM-19127) were used as references.

Table 1 Strain designation, year of isolation, location and host variety for Xanthomonas isolates from Bulgaria and Macedonia. 

Strain designation Year of isolation Location Host variety
1b,2b 1999 Lovech, Bulgaria (NB) Kapiya
3b 1999 Lovech, Bulgaria (NB) Hot pepper
4b,5b 2000 Institute of Genetics, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) Sortiment
6b,7b 2001 Institute of Genetics, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) Genetic material
8b 2002 Lovech, Bulgaria (NB) Kapiya
9b 2002 Trebich, Bulgaria (WB) cv. Chorbadzhiyska
10b 2002 Pazardzhik, Bulgaria (SB) Kapiya
11b 2003 IPP, Kostinbrod, Bulgariab cv. California wonder
12b 2003 Petrich, Bulgaria (WB) Kapiya
13b 2004 IPP, Kostinbrod, Bulgariab (WB) cv. California wonder
14b,15b 2005 Institute of Genetics, Sofia, Bulgaria (WB) Ornamental
16b 2006 Kavarna, Bulgaria (NEB) Kapiya
17b 2006 IPP, Kostinbrod, Bulgariab (WB) Kapiya
18b,19b 2006 IPP, Kostinbrod, Bulgariab (WB) cv. Golden medal
22b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) L No. 82
23b,24b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) cv. OK
25b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) L 80×67
26b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) cv. Rama
27b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) L B2/13
28b,29b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) Selection material
30b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) L 206
31b 2006 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) Hot pepper
32b,33b 2007 Haskovo, Bulgaria (SB) Kapiya-red
34b,35b 2007 Stara Zagora, Bulgaria (SB) Kapiya-red
36b,37b 2008 IPP, Kostinbrod, Bulgariab (WB) cv. Golden medal
38b 2008 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) Orange kapiya
39b,40b 2009 Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (WB) Kapiya
41b,42b 2009 Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (NB) Kapiya
43b 2009 Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (NB) Hot pepper
44b 2010 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) Kapiya
45b 2010 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) Kurtovska kapiya
47b 2010 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) Kapiya
48b 2010 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) Hot pepper
49b,50b 2010 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) Shipka
51b,52b 2010 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) Hot pepper
53b 2011 Novi Iskar, Bulgaria (WB) Kapiya
54b 2011 IPP, Bulgariab (WB) Siwriya
55b,56b 2011 Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (WB) Kapiya
57b,58b 2011 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) White kapiya
59b 2011 MVCRI, Plovdiv, Bulgariac (SB) White kapiya
60b,61b,62b,63b,64b,65b 2011 IG, Sofia, Bulgariaa (WB) White kapiya
66b,67b,68b,69b 2012 Pavlikeni, Bulgaria (NB) Kambi
70b,71b,72b 2012 Pavlikeni, Bulgaria (NB) Kapiya-red
73b,74b,75b,76b 2012 Pavlikeni, Bulgaria (NB) cv. Shipka
77b,78b,79b 2012 Durankulak, Bulgaria (NEB) cv. Chorbadzhiyska
80b,81b,82b 2012 Shabla, Bulgaria (NEB) Kapiya
83b,84b,85b 2012 Tyulenowo, Bulgaria (NEB) Kambi
86b,87b,88b 2012 Kavarna, Bulgaria (NEB) Kapiya-red
89b,90b,91b,92b 2013 Kostinbrod, Bulgaria (WB) Kapiya
93b,94b.95b 2013 Sadowo, Bulgaria (SB) Kapiya
96b,97b 2013 Byala Cherkva, Bulgaria (NB) Siwriya
98b,99b,100b 2013 Byala Cherkva, Bulgaria (NB) Kapiya-red
101b,102b,103b 2013 Byala Cherkva, Bulgaria (NB) Kambi
105b 2013 Byala Cherkva, Bulgaria (NB) cv. Chorbadzhiyska
106b 2013 Shabla, Bulgaria (NEB) cv. Chorbadzhiyska
107b 2013 Kavarna, Bulgaria (NEB) Kambi
108b,109b,110b,111b,112b, 113b,114b,115b 2013 Kavarna, Bulgaria (NEB) Kapiya-red
1M,2M,5M,7M,11M 2005 Strumitza, Macedonia (M) cv. Kurtovska kapiya
15M,21M,25M 2005 Kochani, Macedonia (M) cv. Kurtovska kapiya
28M,31M,35M,37M,38M 2005 Belasitza, Macedonia (M) cv. Kurtovska kapiya
44M,50M,53M 2005 Strumitza, Macedonia (M) cv. Kurtovska kapiya
54M,55M,56M,57M,58M,59M, 60M,61M,62M,63M,64M,65M, 66M,67M,68M,69M,70M 2012 Lazhani, Macedonia (M) Sivriya
71M,72M,73M,74M,75M 2013 Radovish, Macedonia (M) cv. Kurtovska kapiya
76M,77M,78M 2013 Belasitza, Macedonia (M) cv. Golden medal
79M,80M,81M 2013 Kochani, Macedonia (M) Hot pepper
82M,83M,84M 2013 Strumitza, Macedonia (M) Kapiya
85M,86M,87M 2013 Lazhani, Macedonia (M) cv. Babura

aInstitute of Genetics (part of Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics, since 2010).

bInstitute of Plant Protection (part of Institute of Soil Science, Agrotechnologies and Plant Protection 'Nikola Poushkarov', Sofia, Bulgaria, since 2012).

cMaritsa Vegetable Crops Research Institute.WB, Western Bulgaria; NB, Northern Bulgaria; NEB, North-Eastern Bulgaria; SB, Southern Bulgaria; M, Macedonia.Bold font-strains identified as X. vesicatoria; regular font-strains identified as X. euvesicatoria.

DNA extraction

DNA was extracted from bacterial suspensions with OD600 = 1 with DNeasy Blood & Tissue Purification Kit (Qiagen). Control of yield and purity of the obtained DNA was performed by measuring absorbance at 230 nm, 260 nm, 280 nm, and 320 nm with a spectrophotometer Nanodrop 2000 (Thermo Scientific).

PCR with species-specific primers

Five species-specific primers were used for identification of the strains: Xeu 2.4/Xeu 2.5 and Bs-XeF/Bs-XeR for X. euvesicatoria, XvF/Bs-XvR for X. vesicatoria, Bs-XgF/Bs-XgR for X. gardneri and Bs-XpF/Bs-XpR for X. perforans (Table 2).

Table 2 Sequences of oligonucleotide primers used in PCR amplifications. 

Primer Oligonucleotide sequence (5'→3') Reference

PCRs with all primer sets were performed in a total volume of 25 µL, containing (final concentrations): 0.5× Red Taq DNA polymerase MasterMix (VWR Int.), 4 pmol of each primer, and 100 ng of template DNA. The amplification with primers Bs-XeF/Bs-XeR, Bs-XvF/Bs-XvR, Bs-XgF/Bs-XgR, and Bs-XpF/Bs-XpR was carried out as described by Koenraadt et al.20 and with primers Xeu 2.4/Xeu 2.5 as described by Moretti et al.21


Restriction of the 16S-23S ITS region, amplified with primers 16S-p2/23S-p7 (Table 2), with HpaII was performed as a second method for identification.23 Amplification was carried out in a total volume of 50 µL containing (final concentrations) 1× PCR buffer (STS); 1.5 mM MgCl2; 0.15 mM dNTPs; 0.4 U Taq DNA polymerase (STS); 10 pmol of each primer; 100 ng of template DNA, under the following reaction conditions: a denaturation step at 95 °C for 5 min, followed by 30 cycles at 94 °C for 45 s, 58 °C for 45 s, and 72 °C for 45 s, and a final step at 72 °C for 7 min.


The amplification program was designed according to Momol et al.,24 using four random primers: CUGEA-3, CUGEA-4, CUGEA-5, and CUGEA-6 (Table 2). Amplification was carried out in a final volume of 25 µL, containing (final concentrations) 1× buffer, 2.5 mM MgCl2, 50 pmol of each primer, 0.1 mM dNTPs, 0.5 U Taq polymerase, and 100 ng of DNA.


Three primers were used: BOX A1R, ERIC1R, and ERIC2 (Table 2). PCR mix contained (final concentrations) 1× buffer, 2.5 mM MgCl2, 50 pmol of each primer, 0.1 mM dNTPs, 0.5 U Taq polymerase, and 100 ng of DNA in a total volume of 25 µL. PCR amplification consisted of an initial denaturing step (94 °C for 7 min); followed by 35 cycles of denaturation (94 °C for 1 min), annealing (56.5 °C for 1 min for BOX-PCR and 54 °C for 1 min for ERIC-PCR) and extension (72 °C for 5 min); followed by a final extension cycle (65 °C for 15 min). The PCR program was performed in a thermocycler Biocycler® (Applied Biosystems).

RAPD-PCRs and REP-PCRs were carried out in duplicates and only the main products were taken into consideration.


The PCR and restriction products were separated electrophoretically in 1.5% agarose gel in Tris-borate-EDTA (TBE) buffer for 30 min at 100 V, stained with ethidium bromide (EtBr) and visualized under UV light. GeneRuler 100 bp Plus DNA Ladder (Thermo Scientific) was used. The gels were analyzed by GenoSoft Capture and GenoSoft Imaging software (VWR Int.).

Discriminatory index

The Discriminatory power of the methods was calculated using the Hunter and Gaston27 discriminatory index (D):


where D is the index of discriminatory power, N is the number of unrelated strains tested, S is the number of different types, and xj is the number of strains belonging to the jth type.

Data analysis

Genetic diversity among the strains of Xanthomonas species was estimated by an analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA). The strains were grouped according their geographic location into two countries (Bulgaria and Macedonia) and five regions (populations): Northern Bulgaria (22 strains), Southern Bulgaria (12 strains), North-Eastern Bulgaria (23 strains), Western Bulgaria (27 strains), and Macedonia (47 strains). Binary matrices of presence/absence of bands at specific positions were prepared from the molecular data. The results were reported by standard AMOVA table including degree of freedom (d.f.), sums of squares, variance components, percentage of variation, φ statistics and p value. The significance was examined with 999 random permutations. The genetic differences between the strains from the investigated regions were assessed by means of Nei's unbiased genetic distance.28 Principal coordinates analysis (PCoA) was performed for visualizing the patterns of relationship via the genetic distance matrix. GenAIEx 6.5 software29 was used for data analysis.



Two bacterial spot pathogens were identified among the analyzed strains: X. vesicatoria and X. euvesicatoria. The majority of the strains belonged to the species X. euvesicatoria (84 from Bulgaria and 47 from Macedonia), which was confirmed by both PCR amplification with species-specific primer pairs and the PCR-RFLP analysis. Only three Macedonian strains isolated in 2005 and 27 Bulgarian strains were identified as X. vesicatoria. The distribution of the two species during the study is presented in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1 Incidence of X. vesicatoria and X. euvesicatoria in Bulgaria (A) and Macedonia (B) through the years (as % from the total number of strains from each species and country). 


In the course of RAPD-PCR analysis, 16 amplification products were obtained for the X. euvesicatoria and 7 for the X. vesicatoria strains. The primers chosen to evaluate polymorphism generated bands in a wide size range: from 330 bp to 2443 bp for X. euvesicatoria and from 550 bp to 2500 bp for X. vesicatoria. Amplification with CUGEA-5 was not applicable for analysis and comparison due to the large number of indistinguishable products. In the presence of the CUGEA-3 primer, only one product for each species was obtained – around 650 bp and 1100 bp for X. euvesicatoria and X. vesicatoria, respectively. After the amplification with the CUGEA-6 primer, three profiles were revealed for X. euvesicatoria strains – profile I, II, and III, respectively. Profile I consisted of five products and was formed by only 8% of the Bulgarian strains, all isolated in 2012.8 The rest of the strains generated profile II which was characterized by five products. The type culture of X. euvesicatoria formed the third profile. With CUGEA-6, no intraspecies diversity was observed for the isolated X. vesicatoria strains: they all formed a profile of six products (about 1100 bp, 1400 bp, 1500 bp, 1800 bp, 2100 bp, and 3000 bp). Only the type X. vesicatoria strain showed a different pattern, consisting of two amplification products (around 1100 bp and 1800 bp). The amplification of the X. euvesicatoria strains with CUGEA-4 generated five profiles (Fig. 2, Table 3). Most of the analyzed strains formed profile III. Profiles I and II were exclusive to Bulgarian strains. Profile V comprised a great part of the Bulgarian (40%) and only 2% of the Macedonian strains (Table 3). X. vesicatoria strains formed only one RAPD-pattern with CUGEA-4 (550 bp, 650 bp, 800 bp, 1000 bp, 1300 bp and 1600 bp) with the exception of the type strain which lacked the product of 1300 bp, and had additional one of 2500 bp. The discriminatory index of RAPD-PCR with CUGEA-6 and CUGEA-4 for X. euvesicatoria was 0.14 and 0.55, respectively, whereas the combined analysis had D of 0.60.

Fig. 2 RAPD-PCR amplification of X. euvesicatoria strains with the CUGEA-4 primer. On the left: M-DNA ladder; lane 12 – representative X. euvesicatoria strain forming profile I; lane 2 – representative X. euvesicatoria strain forming profile II; lanes 3–5, 11, 13, 14 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile III; lanes 6–8, 18 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile IV; lanes 1, 9, 10 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile V; lane 15 – PCR mix. On the right: graphs of the five profiles. The numbers at the tops of the peaks correspond to the lengths of the amplicons. 

Table 3 Profiles generated by amplification with CUGEA-4 of X. euvesicatoria strains. 

Strains Profiles
Bulgarian strains 10% 1% 45% 4% 40%
Macedonian strains 0 0 89% 9% 2%


The REP-PCR analysis with BOX A1R generated 11 well defined amplification products with lengths of 250–2100 bp and revealed four profiles among the population of the X. euvesicatoria strains (Figs. 3 and 4). The majority of the strains (97%) formed profile I which was also characteristic for the type strain, X. euvesicatoria NBIMCC 8731. All Macedonian strains were grouped together in profile I. Profiles II and III united only Bulgarian strains (11b, 38b, and 28b) isolated from Western Bulgaria. Only one strain (69b), isolated from Northern Bulgaria, characterized profile IV. The discriminatory index was 0.06.

Fig. 3 REP-PCR amplification of X. euvesicatoria strains with the BOX A1R primer – Profiles I–III. On the left: M-DNA ladder; lanes 1, 3–5, 7–11, 13–17 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile I; lanes 2, 12 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile II; lane 6 – representative X. euvesicatoria strain forming profile III; lane 18 – PCR mix. On the right: graphs of the three profiles. The numbers at the tops of the peaks correspond to the lengths of the amplicons. 

Fig. 4 REP-PCR amplification of X. euvesicatoria strains with BOX A1R primer – Profiles I, IV. On the left: M-DNA ladder; lanes 1–15, 17 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile I; lane 16 – representative X. euvesicatoria strain forming profile IV; lane 18 – PCR mix. On the right: graphs of the two profiles. The numbers at the tops of the peaks correspond to the lengths of the amplicons. 

All X. vesicatoria strains were grouped in profile I with five amplification products (Fig. 5). The type strain, X. vesicatoria NBMICC 2427 formed a separate pattern of six products (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 REP-PCR amplification of X. vesicatoria strains with the BOX A1R primer. On the left: M-DNA ladder; lane 1 – type strain X. vesicatoria forming profile II; lanes 2–10 – representative X. vesicatoria strains forming profile I; lane 11 – PCR mix. On the right: graphs of the two profiles. The numbers at the tops of the peaks correspond to the lengths of the amplicons. 

ERIC-PCR analysis revealed two profiles among X. euvesicatoria strains. Eight well defined amplification products with length 370–1565 bp were observed (Fig. 6). All the Macedonian and most of the Bulgarian strains were grouped into profile I. Only two Bulgarian strains (25b and 27b) formed profile II. One of these strains (25b) was separated also with the analysis with BOX A1R primer, where it formed profile III. The discriminatory index of REP-PCR was 0.03 which makes this analysis less usable for evaluation of genetic diversity of X. euvesicatoria than RAPD-PCR. Among X. vesicatoria strains two different profiles were defined. Most of the Bulgarian strains (70%) were grouped together with all the Macedonian strains in profile I (Fig. 7). Diversity among the Bulgarian strains of the species was achieved only by the use of ERIC primers.

Fig. 6 REP-PCR amplification of X. euvesicatoria strains with ERIC primers. On the left: M-DNA ladder; lanes 1–5, 8–17 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile I; lanes 6, 7 – representative X. euvesicatoria strains forming profile II; lane 18 – PCR mix. On the right: graphs of the two profiles. The numbers at the tops of the peaks correspond to the lengths of the amplicons. 

Fig. 7 REP-PCR amplification of X. vesicatoria strains with ERIC primers. On the left: M-DNA ladder; lanes 1–3, 6, 9 – representative X. vesicatoria strains forming profile I; lanes 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 – representative X. vesicatoria strains forming profile II; lane 11 – PCR mix. On the right: graphs of the two profiles. The numbers at the tops of the peaks correspond to the lengths of the amplicons. 

Genetic variance

Two- and three level AMOVA were conducted for the both types of molecular primers to reveal the genetic differentiation of Xanthomonas strains. The summary statistics for X. euvesicatoria are presented in Table 4. The partitioning of genetic variation between the strains showed a larger share within the regions and was accounted for 67–68% for RAPD-PCR and 95–97% for REP-PCR respectively. In AMOVA based on RAPD-PCR, the percentages of variation attributed to among regions were 32% (two-level analysis) and 28% (three-level analysis). It was established that the difference between the countries (Bulgaria and Macedonia) was minor (5%). The contributions of all variance components were statistically significant (p = 0.01 for within- and among-region levels and p < 0.05 for among-country level). Furthermore, pairwise ϕ matrix showed significant differences between all regions excluding Macedonian and North-Eastern Bulgarian strains. Only 3–5% of the total variance was due to the variation among regions on the base of REP-PCR. No differences were recorded between countries. The AMOVA results for X. vesicatoria strains were not reported because of non-significant partitioning of the genetic variation.

Table 4 Analysis of molecular variance of X. euvesicatoria strains based on RAPD-PCR (CUGEA-4 and CUGEA-6) and REP-PCR (with primers BOX A1R and ERIC). 

Source of variation df Sums of squares Variance components Percentage of variation φ statistics p value
Among regions 4 42.4 0.391 32% 0.316 0.001
Within regions 126 106.7 0.847 68%
Among countries 1 18.0 0.061 5% 0.048 0.025
Among regions 3 24.3 0.354 28% 0.295 0.001
Within regions 126 106.7 0.847 67% 0.329 0.001
Among regions 4 1.92 0.009 3% 0.032 0.039
Within regions 126 33.4 0.265 97%
Among countries 1 0.35 0.000 0% -0.024 0.888
Among regions 3 1.57 0.013 5% 0.045 0.054
Within regions 126 33.4 0.265 95% 0.022 0.028

A. Two level AMOVA: the strains were grouped into regions according their geographical locations; B. Three level AMOVA: the regions from Bulgaria and Macedonia were separated.

Additionally, Nei's unbiased genetic distance between all pairs of regions was calculated using RAPD-PCR data for X. euvesicatoria (Table 5). The largest distances were obtained between Macedonian strains and those from Northern (0.154) and Southern Bulgaria (0.134), and the smallest distances – between the strains originated from North-Eastern Bulgaria and those from Macedonia (0.001) and Western Bulgaria (0.015). Principal Components Analysis (PCoA) based on the genetic distance matrix was carried out (Fig. 8). According to the results, the first two coordinates explained 86% and 13% of the total molecular variation, respectively. Scatter PCoA plot displayed the close relationship between the three regions mentioned above – Macedonia (M), North-Eastern Bulgaria (NEB) and Western Bulgaria (WB) (Fig. 8).

Table 5 Pairwise matrix of Nei's unbiased genetic distance for X. euvesicatoria strains. 

Regionsa M NB SB NEB
NB 0.154
SB 0.134 0.070
NEB 0.001 0.124 0.100
WB 0.033 0.047 0.033 0.015

aNB, Northern Bulgaria; SB, Southern Bulgaria; NEB, North-Eastern Bulgaria; WB, Western Bulgaria; M, Macedonia.

Fig. 8 Scatter PCoA plot of X. euvesicatoria strains. 


The distribution of X. vesicatoria and X. euvesicatoria varied through the years. Interestingly, in the last two years of the study, X. vesicatoria was not detected. The shift between the populations of X. euvesicatoria and X. vesicatoria, which we observed in 2012 and 2013, can hardly be explained. Bulgaria and Macedonia are neighboring countries with similar climate. A possible reason for the shift may be local adaptation to climate conditions of the respective years and the more narrow specialization of X. euvesicatoria to pepper compared to X. vesicatoria.

Analysis with CUGEA-6 revealed diversity only among the X. euvesicatoria Bulgarian strains. A greater diversity was observed by amplification with CUGEA-4 of X. euvesicatoria strains from both countries. The combined RAPD-PCR analysis with the two random primers CUGEA-4 and CUGEA-6 enabled a more comprehensive study of the genome and could be used for investigation of the genetic diversity in populations. However, according to our results, these primers were not suitable for seeking of intraspecies diversity within the species X. vesicatoria as only the type strain formed a profile different from the other strains. Investigations of more strains are needed to confirm this statement. Heterogenеity for the population of X. euvesicatoria was also detected by BOX-PCR and for X. vesicatoria – by ERIC-PCR. Diversity was observed mainly in the Bulgarian populations of both species. The Macedonian X. euvesicatoria strains were relatively homogenous when analyzed by RAPD-PCR with CUGEA-6, ERIC-PCR, and BOX-PCR and the X. vesicatoria strains also grouped together by all applied methods.

RAPD-PCR analysis with the two primers CUGEA-4 and CUGEA-6 had greater discriminative power (0.60) than BOX- and ERIC-PCR for X. euvesicatoria, which makes this method applicable for strain diversity evaluation. However, the genetic patterns obtained by the different methods used in this study did not show correlation in the grouping of the strains – only one Bulgarian X. euvesicatoria strain formed a different profile than the majority of the strains determined by both BOX- and ERIC-PCR analyses.

To evaluate the diversity of the strains X. euvesicatoria according to their place of isolation, AMOVA based on the regions and countries was carried out. Differences between the Bulgarian and Macedonian strains were minor with RAPD-PCR and insignificant with REP-PCR. Variations were observed among populations originating from different regions – WB, NB, NEB, SB, and M, which may be related to the specific soil and climate conditions of each region. However, much greater variation existed among the strains irrespective of their origin (67–68% vs. 28–32%). The strains in this study have been isolated during a period of 13 years which could explain these results. Similarities between the regions M and WB may be due to the closest location to each other compared to the others, while M and NEB, which have least genetic distance, are geographically the two most distant regions. However, NEB is the only region alongside the Black Sea coast, which is characterized with the mildest climate of all investigated regions, and Macedonia (M) has milder climate than SB, NB, and WB due to its most southern location.

RAPD-PCR and REP-PCR have been successfully used for the characterization of populations of different xanthomonads.16,3035 To our knowledge, our recent and previous study7 are the first analyses of populations of the causative agents of bacterial spot of pepper using these methods. According to the obtained data, the Bulgarian population of X. euvesicatoria is more diverse and prevalent than the population of X. vesicatoria. The domination of one genotype among the xanthomonads in Bulgaria and Macedonia could be due to a common source of infection or origin. Trade of seeds and seedlings between the neighboring countries and the different regions is probable. The great homogeneity among the strains of certain species could be a result of being in an isolated and restricted area. The distribution of the pathogens in different regions is a key to the development of genetic diversity. The high genetic identity among strains, isolated from geographically close areas with nearly similar climatic conditions, is commonly observed and is crucial for the adaptation capabilities of the pathogens. There is evidence for a relationship between the regions of isolation and the grouping of strains according to their REP-PCR patterns for other Xanthomonas species.3133,35 Relationships between the particular strain pattern groups and the regions of isolation in this study were not recorded, however, based on the PCoA, a relation between the climatic conditions of the regions and the genetic distance of the populations may be suggested. Correspondence between metabolic clusters of X. euvesicatoria and the climatic characteristics of the regions was detected in a previous study for strains isolated in a single year (2012). In this year, the Bulgarian strains from North-Eastern Bulgaria were also closest to Macedonian strains and more distant from the strains isolated from other parts of Bulgaria.8

The occupation of specialized niches could influence the organization of the genome and the distribution of repetitive elements in the bacterial genome. This could have altered the genetic profile and the emergence of new characteristic profiles for certain species or strains. The pepper varieties, at this stage of the studies, seem not to be related to the profiles formed by the repetitive elements. For example, some strains, isolated from the same local pepper varieties in Bulgaria, were separated as different and genetically heterogeneous. The population of the two pathogens, X. euvesicatoria and X. vesicatoria, in Macedonia is more homogenic. Cv. Kurtovska kapyia is the main pepper variety grown in Macedonia and adaptation to this host could not be a factor which defines the genetic diversity within the population. A comparison of a large number of strains from different pepper varieties from a single region in a single year may show some relatedness, however, based on the overall picture, the variety of the host seems to have much less significance compared to the region of isolation.

In conclusion, we evaluated the genetic diversity based on repetitive elements in the two bacterial species as an initial step to understanding the population structure of the pathogens identified as causative agents of bacterial spot of pepper in Bulgaria and Macedonia. This study may serve as a platform study for extended investigations in this area and refined characterization of the relations region – climate adaptation – host variety adaptation – genetic diversity of the pathogens. Our results also showed that the RAPD primers rather than ERIC- and BOX-primers were efficient in differentiating strains. Additional samples and yearly comparisons are needed to fully understand the population structure.


This study was supported by project DFNI Б02/4 by the National Science Fund of Bulgaria.


1 Jones JB, Jones JP, Stall RE, Zitter TA, eds. Compendium of Tomato Diseases. Saint Paul, MN, USA: APS Press; 1991. [ Links ]

2 Barak JD, Vancheva T, Lefeuvre P, et al. Whole-genome sequences of Xanthomonas euvesicatoria strains clarify taxonomy and reveal a stepwise erosion of Type 3 effectors. Front Plant Sci. 2016;7:1805. [ Links ]

3 Constantin EC, Cleenwerck I, Maes M, et al. Genetic characterization of strains named as Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. dieffenbachiae leads to a taxonomic revision of the X. axonopodis species complex. Plant Pathol. 2016;65:792-806. [ Links ]

4 Potnis N, Timilsina S, Strayer A, et al. Bacterial spot of tomato and pepper: diverse Xanthomonas species with a wide variety of virulence factors posing a worldwide challenge. Mol Plant Pathol. 2015;16:907-920. [ Links ]

5 Schwartz AR, Potnis N, Timilsina S, et al. Phylogenomics of Xanthomonas field strains infecting pepper and tomato reveals diversity in effector repertoires and identifies determinants of host specificity. Front Microbiol. 2015;6:1-17. [ Links ]

6 Kyeon M-S, Son S-H, Noh Y-H, Kim Y-E, Lee H-I, Cha J-S. Xanthomonas euvesicatoria causes bacterial spot disease on pepper plant in Korea. Plant Pathol J. 2016;32(5):431-440. [ Links ]

7 Areas SM, Gonçalves MR, Soman MJ, et al. Prevalence of Xanthomonas euvesicatoria on pepper in Brazil. J Phytopathol. 2016;163:1050-1054. [ Links ]

8 Vancheva T, Stoyanova M, Tatyozova M, Bogatsevska N, Moncheva P. Sub-species diversity of Xanthomonas euvesicatoria Bulgarian and Macedonian strains from pepper. Biotechnol Biotechnol Equip. 2014;28(4):592-601. [ Links ]

9 Kovachevski I. New parasitic fungi in Bulgaria. Trudove na Bulgarskoto prirodoizpitvatelno druzhestvo. 1936;7:13-24. Bg. [ Links ]

10 Mitrev S, Pejcinovski F. Characterization of Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria, causal agent of bacterial spot ofpepper, cv. kurtovska kapija. Yearbook for Plant Protection. Vol.X; 1999:151–163. [ Links ]

11 Wang D, Zhang L, Zhou X, et al. Antimicrobial susceptibility, virulence genes, and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis of Staphylococcus aureus recovered from bovine mastitis in Ningxia, China. J Dairy Sci. 2016;99(12):9560-9569. [ Links ]

12 Devi SM, Aishwarya S, Halami PM. Discrimination and divergence among Lactobacillus plantarum-group (LPG) isolates with reference to their probiotic functionalities from vegetable origin. Syst Appl Microbiol. 2016, [ Links ]

13 Seribelli AA, Frazão MR, Medeiros MI, Falcão JP. Molecular and phenotypic characterization of strains of Shigella sonnei isolated over 31 years suggests the circulation of two prevalent subtypes in São Paulo State, Brazil. J Med Microbiol. 2016;65(7):666-677. [ Links ]

14 Chen W, Yang J, You C, Liu Z. Diversity of Cronobacter spp. isolates from the vegetables in the middle-east coastline of China. World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2016;32(6):90. [ Links ]

15 Cardoso AA, Andraus MP, Borba TC, Martin-Didonet CC, Ferreira EP. Characterization of rhizobia isolates obtained from nodules of wild genotypes of common bean. Braz J Microbiol. 2016, [ Links ]

16 Permaul K, Pillay D, Pillay B. Random-amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis shows intraspecies differences among Xanthomonas albilineans strains. Lett Appl Microbiol. 1996;23:307-311. [ Links ]

17 Trebaol G, Manceau C, Tirilly Y, Boury S. Assessment of the genetic diversity among strains of Xanthomonas cynarae by randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis and development of specific characterized amplified regions for the rapid identification of X. cynarae. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001;67:3379-3384. [ Links ]

18 Shahrestani TA, Kazempour NM, Ebadie AA, Elahinia AS. Genetic diversity of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae in rice fields of Guilan province (Iran) using RAPD markers. Agric Trop Subtrop. 2012;45(2):60-65. [ Links ]

19 Fatima S, Bajwa R, Anjum T, Saleem Z. Assessment of genetic diversity among different indigenous Xanthomonas isolates via RAPD and ISSR. Arch Biol Sci. 2012;64(1):307-319. [ Links ]

20 Koenraadt H, van Betteray B, Germain R, et al. Development of specific primers for the molecular detection of bacterial spot of pepper and tomato. Acta Hortic. 2009;808:99-102. [ Links ]

21 Moretti C, Amatulli MT, Buonaurio R. PCR-based assay for the detection of Xanthomonas euvesicatoria causing pepper and tomato bacterial spot. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2009;49:466-471. [ Links ]

22 Rachman CN, Kabadjova H, Prévost H, Dousset X. Identification of Lactobacillus alimentarius and Lactobacillus farciminis with 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacer region polymorphism and PCR amplification using species-specific oligonucleotide. J Appl Microbiol. 2003;95:1207-1216. [ Links ]

23 Kizheva Y, Vancheva T, Stoyanova M, Bogatzevska N, Moncheva P, Hristova P. 16S-23S ITS rDNA PCR-RFLP approach as a tool for identification and differentiation of bacterial spot-causing xanthomonas. J Plant Pathol. 2016, [ Links ]

24 Momol MT, Momol EA, Lamboy WF, Norelli JL, Beer SV, Aldwinckle HS. Characterization of Erwinia amylovora strains using random amplified polymorphic DNA fragment (RAPDs). J Appl Biol. 1997;82:389-398. [ Links ]

25 Yang A, Yen C. PCR optimization of BOX-A1R PCR for microbial source tracking of Escherichia coli in waterways. J Exp Microbiol Immunol. 2012;16:85-89. [ Links ]

26 Versalvoic J, Koeuth T, Lupski JR. Distribution of repetitive DNA sequences in eubacteria and application to fingerprinting of bacterial genomes. Nucleic Acids Res. 1991;19:6823-6831. [ Links ]

27 Hunter PR, Gaston MA. Numerical index of the discriminatory ability of typing systems: an application of Simpson's index of diversity. J Clin Microbiol. 1988;26(11):2465-2466. [ Links ]

28 Nei M. Genetic distance between populations. Am Nat. 1972;106:283-392. [ Links ]

29 Peakall R, Smouse PE. GenAIEx 6.5: genetic analysis in Excel. Population genetic software for teaching and research-an update. Bioinformatics. 2012;28(19):2537-2539. [ Links ]

30 Goncalves ER, Rosato YB. Genotypic characterization of xanthomonad strains isolated from passion fruit plants (Passiflora spp.) and their relatedness to different Xanthomonas species. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2000;50:811-821. [ Links ]

31 Scortichini M, Marchesi U, Di Prospero P. Genetic diversity of Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis (synonyms: X. campestris pv. juglandis; X. juglandis pv. juglandis) strains from different geographical areas shown by repetitive polymerase chain reaction genomic fingerprinting. J Phytopathol. 2001;149(6):325-332. [ Links ]

32 Massomo SMS, Nielsen H, Mabagala RB, Mansfeld-Giese K, Hockenhull J, Mortensen CN. Identification and characterisation of Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris strains from Tanzania by pathogenicity tests, Biolog, rep-PCR and fatty acid methyl ester analysis. Eur J Plant Pathol. 2003;109:775-789. [ Links ]

33 Mkandawire ABC, Mabagala RB, Guzmán P, Gilbertson RL. Genetic diversity and pathogenic variation of common blight bacteria (Xanthomonas campestris pv. phaseoli and X. campestris pv. phaseoli var. fuscans) suggests pathogen coevolution with the common bean. Phytopathology. 2004;94:593-603. [ Links ]

34 Ogunjobi AA, Fagade OE, Dixon AGO. Comparative analysis of genetic variation among Xanthomonas axonopodis pv manihotis isolated from the western states of Nigeria using RAPD and AFLP. Indian J Microbiol. 2010;50:132-138. [ Links ]

35 Arshiya M, Suryawanshi A, More D, Baig MMV. Repetitive PCR based detection of genetic diversity in Xanthomonas axonopodis pv citri strains. J Appl Biol Biotechnol. 2014;2(01):017-022. [ Links ]

Received: December 13, 2016; Accepted: August 23, 2017; pub: May 3, 2018

*Corresponding author. E-mail: (T. Vancheva).

Associate Editor: Welington Araújo

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Creative Commons License This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivative License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original work is properly cited and the work is not changed in any way.