BACKGROUND:The genetic diversity in Australian populations of Xanthomonas species associated with bacterial leaf spot in tomato, capsicum and chilli were compared to worldwide bacterial populations. The aim of this study was to confirm the identities of these Australian Xanthomonas species and classify them in comparison to overseas isolates. Analysis of whole genome sequence allows for the investigation of bacterial population structure, pathogenicity and gene exchange, resulting in better management strategies and biosecurity. RESULTS:Phylogenetic analysis of the core genome alignments and SNP data grouped strains in distinct clades. Patterns observed in average nucleotide identity, pan genome structure, effector and carbohydrate active enzyme profiles reflected the whole genome phylogeny and highlight taxonomic issues in X. perforans and X. euvesicatoria. Circular sequences with similarity to previously characterised plasmids were identified, and plasmids of similar sizes were isolated. Potential false positive and false negative plasmid assemblies were discussed. Effector patterns that may influence virulence on host plant species were analysed in pathogenic and non-pathogenic xanthomonads. CONCLUSIONS:The phylogeny presented here confirmed X. vesicatoria, X. arboricola, X. euvesicatoria and X. perforans and a clade of an uncharacterised Xanthomonas species shown to be genetically distinct from all other strains of this study. The taxonomic status of X. perforans and X. euvesicatoria as one species is discussed in relation to whole genome phylogeny and phenotypic traits. The patterns evident in enzyme and plasmid profiles indicate worldwide exchange of genetic material with the potential to introduce new virulence elements into local bacterial populations.