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In planta conditions induce genomic changes in Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola

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The co-evolution of bacterial plant pathogens and their hosts is a complex and dynamic process. Plant resistance can impose stress on invading pathogens that can lead to, and select for, beneficial changes in the bacterial genome. The Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola (Pph) genomic island PPHGI-1 carries an effector gene, avrPphB (hopAR1), which triggers the hypersensitive reaction in bean plants carrying the R3 resistance gene. Interaction between avrPphB and R3 generates an antimicrobial environment within the plant, resulting in the excision of PPHGI-1 and its loss from the genome. The loss of PPHGI-1 leads to the generation of a Pph strain able to cause disease in the plant. In this study, we observed that lower bacterial densities inoculated into resistant bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) plants resulted in quicker PPHGI-1 loss from the population, and that loss of the island was strongly influenced by the type of plant resistance encountered by the bacteria. In addition, we found that a number of changes occurred in the bacterial genome during growth in the plant, whether or not PPHGI-1 was lost. We also present evidence that the circular PPHGI-1 episome is able to replicate autonomously when excised from the genome. These results shed more light onto the plasticity of the bacterial genome as it is influenced by in planta conditions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Research in Plant Science, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK 2: School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6UR, UK 3: Division of Biology, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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