In this study, we used real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) to evaluate the expression of 32 genes of Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri related to pathogenicity and virulence that are also involved in copper detoxification. Nearly all of the genes were up-regulated, including copA and copB. Two genes homologous to members of the type II secretion system (xcsH and xcsC) and two involved in the degradation of plant cell wall components (pglA and pel) were the most expressed in response to an elevated copper concentration. The type II secretion system (xcs operon) and a few homologues of proteins putatively secreted by this system showed enhanced expression when the bacteria were exposed to a high concentration of copper sulfate. The enhanced expression of the genes of secretion II system during copper stress suggests that this pathway may have an important role in the adaptative response of X. axonopodis pv. citri to toxic compounds. These findings highlight the potential role of these genes in attenuating the toxicity of certain metals and could represent an important means of bacterial resistance against chemicals used to control diseases.
copper resistance; citrus canker; real-time quantitative PCR