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The role of horizontal gene transfer in bacterial crop pathogen emergence.
B. A. VINATZER (1), R. Cai (1), C. L. Monteil (2), C. E. Morris (2). (1) Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, U.S.A.; (2) INRA PACA, Avignon, France

Traditionally, <i>Pseudomonas syringae</i> has been viewed as a crop pathogen and consequently research has focused on strains isolated from crops. However, sampling precipitation, snow pack, leaf litter, and surface water has revealed an immense genetic diversity of <i>P. syringae</i> in these non-agricultural substrates. Interestingly, very close relatives of the tomato pathogen <i>P. syringae</i> pv. <i>tomato</i> (Pto) have been found among the <i>P. syringae</i> in these non-agricultural substrates. Some of these strains are as aggressive on tomato as Pto under laboratory conditions. Multilocus sequence typing and analysis of selected virulence genes show that these environmental Pto-like strains share identical alleles with Pto at some loci and that recombination between Pto-like strains and Pto has occurred during evolution of Pto. The implications of these findings for crop pathogen emergence and evolution will be discussed.<p><p>Keywords:

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