Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A.
The plant pathogenic species Pseudomonas syringae is divided into numerous pathovars based on host specificity. For example, P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000 is pathogenic on tomato and Arabidopsis, whereas P. syringae pv. syringae 61 is pathogenic on bean. The ability of P. syringae strains to elicit the hypersensitive response (HR) in non-hosts or be pathogenic (or parasitic) in hosts is dependent on the Hrp (type III secretion) system and effector proteins this system is thought to inject into plant cells. To test the role of the Hrp system in determining host range, the hrp/hrc gene cluster (hrpK through hrpR) was deleted from DC3000 and complemented in trans with the orthologous cluster from strain 61. Mutant CUCPB5114 expressing the bean pathogen Hrp system on plasmid pCPP2071 retained the ability of wild-type DC3000 to elicit the HR in bean, to grow and cause bacterial speck in tomato, and to elicit a cultivar-specific (gene-for-gene) HR in tomato plants carrying the Pto resistance gene. However, the symptoms produced in compatible tomato plants involved markedly reduced chlorosis, and CUCPB5114(pCPP2071) did not grow or produce symptoms in Arabidopsis Col-0 although it was weakly virulent in NahG Arabidopsis. A hypersensitive-like collapse was produced by CUCPB5114(pCPP2071) in Arabidopsis Col-0 at 1 × 107 CFU/ml, but only if the bacteria also expressed AvrB, which is recognized by the RPM1 resistance gene in Col-0 and confers incompatibility. These observations support the concept that the P. syringae effector proteins, rather than secretion system components, are the primary determinants of host range at both the species and cultivar levels of host specificity.