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Summary

The colonization process of Olea europaea by the defoliating pathotype of Verticillium dahliae, and the in planta interaction with the endophytic, biocontrol strain Pseudomonas fluorescens PICF7 were determined. Differential fluorescent protein tagging was used for the simultaneous visualization of P. fluorescens PICF7 and V. dahliae in olive tissues. Olive plants were bacterized with PICF7 and then transferred to V. dahliae-infested soil. Monitoring olive colonization events by V. dahliae and its interaction with PICF7 was conducted using a non-gnotobiotic system, confocal laser scanner microscopy and tissue vibratoming sections. A yellow fluorescently tagged V. dahliae derivative (VDAT-36I) was obtained by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation. Isolate VDAT-36I quickly colonized olive root surface, successfully invaded root cortex and vascular tissues via macro- and micro-breakages, and progressed to the aerial parts of the plant through xylem vessel cells. Strain PICF7 used root hairs as preferred penetration site, and once established on/in root tissues, hindered pathogen colonization. For the first time using this approach, the entire colonization process of a woody plant by V. dahliae is reported. Early and localized root surface and root endophytic colonization by P. fluorescens PICF7 is needed to impair full progress of verticillium wilt epidemics in olive.