N-acetylcysteine interferes with the biofilm formation, motility and epiphytic behaviour ofXanthomonas citrisubsp.citri

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Citrus canker is caused by Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri. Bacterial biofilm formation is important in the development of this disease because it is a factor in epiphytic bacterial survival on leaves and in infection. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), in addition to having antibacterial properties, reduces biofilm formation by a variety of bacteria and was therefore tested for impairing biofilm formation by X. citri. Copper is currently the antimicrobial compound most commonly applied in agriculture to control citrus canker. Therefore, this study also evaluated a possible synergistic effect between NAC and copper to improve the strategy for controlling this phytopathogen. NAC was found to decrease biofilm formation, the production of extracellular polysaccharides and bacterial stickiness. Motility was also affected in the presence of NAC. The best combination of NAC and copper for controlling X. citri was application of NAC followed by copper 48 h later. The concentrations of 6 mg mL−1 of NAC and 3·5 μg mL−1 of copper were able to kill X. citri. NAC inhibited the epiphytic behaviour of X. citri on leaves, altering cell growth and the bacterial ability to form biofilms. The addition of copper to cells previously treated with NAC enhanced its bactericidal activity. In conclusion, NAC has antibacterial properties against X. citri, interfering with bacterial growth, motility and biofilm formation. Under epiphytic conditions, NAC made the cells more susceptible to copper by affecting X. citri biofilm formation. This study opens new possibilities for the use of NAC in combination with copper, possibly resulting in more sustainable management of citrus canker.

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