Ag professor to discuss plant pathogenic bacteria

Published: Apr 19, 2010 4:00:00 PM
Media Contact: Sally Credille, src0007@auburn.edu, 334-844-3447

Leonardo De La Fuente, assistant professor in Auburn's Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, will present "Use of Microfluidic Chambers as a Model for Studies of Biofilm Formation and Pathogenicity of Plant Pathogenic Bacteria" on Tuesday, April 20, at 2 p.m. in 104 Textile Building. His lecture is hosted by Auburn's Department of Polymer and Fiber Engineering.

De La Fuente, will talk on the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which causes diseases in important crops, such as grapes, citrus, peach, almond, coffee and blueberries. This pathogen is mainly found on the American continent, and is especially important in southern areas of the U.S., where it causes great economic losses in agriculture production.

The bacterium lives inside the host plant's water-conducting xylem vessels. Though not fully understood, the most plausible mechanism of infection is that the formation of biofilms inside the xylem vessels obstructs the passage of water. To understand the infection process, De La Fuente's group is using microfluidic chambers that mimic the structure of xylem vessels. They are microfabricated using photolithography and silicon wafers as a mold and replicated with polydimethylsiloxane and glass surfaces. Their approach is helping to understand the molecular and chemical basis of the process using microscope observations.