Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4203, U.S.A.
We are investigating the genetic basis for, and evolution of, plant pathogenicity in Streptomyces spp. The plant-pathogenic species S. scabies, S. acidiscabies, and S. turgidiscabies cause the scab disease of potato and produce the phytotoxins, thaxtomins. Forty-three Streptomyces strains representing the three species were evaluated; all thaxtomin A-producing Streptomyces strains were pathogenic on potato tubers and all but one hybridized to nec1 and ORFtnp, two genes previously cloned from S. scabies ATCC 41973. nec1 confers a pathogenic phenotype on S. lividans TK24, a nonpathogen, and ORFtnp is a transposase pseudogene located 5′ to nec1. The eight nonpathogenic strains tested neither produced thaxtomin A nor hybridized to nec1. ORFtnp and nec1 occurred on a single PvuII restriction fragment in all thaxtomin A-producing Streptomyces strains. The nucleotide sequences of the homologs of nec1 and ORFtnp from two pathogenic strains each of S. scabies, S. acidiscabies, and S. turgidiscabies were identical; oligonucleotide primers specific to this gene amplified homologs from all strains that hybridized to nec1. We propose that nec1 and ORFtnp have been horizontally mobilized from S. scabies to S. acidiscabies and S. turgidiscabies, and that nec1 is involved in pathogenicity and physically linked to the thaxtomin A biosynthetic genes.
horizontal gene transfer,