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Potato Plants Genetically Modified to Produce N-Acylhomoserine Lactones Increase Susceptibility to Soft Rot Erwiniae

August 2004 , Volume 17 , Number  8
Pages  880 - 887

I. K. Toth , 2 J. A. Newton , 1 L. J. Hyman , 2 A. K. Lees , 2 M. Daykin , 3 C. Ortori , 3 P. Williams , 3 and R. G. Fray 1

1School of Biological Sciences, Nottingham University, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, U.K.; 2Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, U.K.; 3Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7, U.K.

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Accepted 16 March 2004.

Many gram-negative bacteria employ N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHL) to regulate diverse physiological processes in concert with cell population density (quorum sensing [QS]). In the plant pathogen Erwinia carotovora, the AHL synthesized via the carI/expI genes are responsible for regulating the production of secreted plant cell wall-degrading exoenzymes and the antibiotic carbapen-3-em carboxylic acid. We have previously shown that targeting the product of an AHL synthase gene (yenI) from Yersinia enterocolitica to the chloroplasts of transgenic tobacco plants caused the synthesis in planta of the cognate AHL signaling molecules N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL) and N-hexanoylhomoserine lactone (C6-HSL), which in turn, were able to complement a carI¯ QS mutant. In the present study, we demonstrate that transgenic potato plants containing the yenI gene are also able to express AHL and that the presence and level of these AHL in the plant increases susceptibility to infection by E. carotovora. Susceptibility is further affected by both the bacterial level and the plant tissue under investigation.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society