Community analysis of culturable sapwood endophytes from Apulian olive varieties with different susceptibility to Xylella fastidiosa

Endophytes are symptomless fungal and/or bacterial microorganisms found in almost all living plant species. The symbiotic association with their host plants by colonizing the internal tissues has endowed them as a valuable tool to suppress diseases, stimulate growth, and promote stress resistance.

In this context, the study of culturable endophytes residing the sapwood of Apulian olives might be a promising control strategy for xylem colonizing pathogens as Xylella fastidiosa. To date, olive sapwood cultivable endophytes are still under exploration; therefore, this work pursues a study of cultivable endophytes occurrence variation in the sapwood of different olive varieties under the effect of seasonality, geographical coordinates, and X. fastidiosa infection status.

Our study confirms the stability of sapwood endophytic culturable communities in the resistant olive variety and presents the seasonal and geographical fluctuation of olive trees’ sapwood endophytes. It also describes the diversity and occurrence frequency of fungal and bacterial genera, and finally retrieves some of the sapwood-inhabiting fungal and bacterial isolates, known as biocontrol agents of plant pathogens. Thus, the potential role of these bacterial and fungal isolates in conferring olive tree protection against X. fastidiosa should be further investigated.