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Distribution and Sequence Analysis of a Family of Type III-Dependent Effectors Correlate with the Phylogeny of Ralstonia solanacearum Strains

August 2004 , Volume 17 , Number  8
Pages  931 - 940

Muriel Lavie , 1 Benjamin Seunes , 1 Philippe Prior , 2 and Christian Boucher 1

1Laboratoire des Interactions Plantes Microorganismes INRA-CNRS, BP27, 31326 Castanet Tolosan Cedex, France; 2Station de Pathologie végétale Domaine Saint-Maurice BP 94 84143 Montfavet Cedex, France

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Accepted 7 March 2004.

In Ralstonia solanacearum, we previously have reported on the characterization of popP1 and popP2 genes. These genes encode type III-dependent pathogenicity effectors related to the large family of AvrRxv/YopJ cysteine prote-ases that are shared among pathogens of plants and animals. In this study, we identify a third gene, named popP3, that is inactivated in the genome sequence of strain GMI1000 by insertion of a copy of the insertion sequence ISRso13. The three popP genes are localized on two large chromosomal pathogenicity islands, with popP1 and popP2 being present on the same island. Phylogenic analysis demonstrated that the PopP2 and PopP3 proteins are clearly distinct from other effectors of this family previously characterized in plant and animal pathogens. Analysis of the distribution and allelic variations of the three genes in 30 strains representative of the biodiversity of R. solanacearum established that popP genes are distributed widely among strains from two of the three phyla previously defined on the basis of the structure of the core genome. Sequencing of the popP genes from the different strains revealed limited allelic variations at the three loci but did not show evidence of recombination between the popP genes. Limited allelic variation together with occurrence of insertion sequences within or in the close vicinity of popP genes and the presence of gene duplications in these pathogenicity islands suggest that genomic rearrangements might be a major evolutionary driving force controlling evolution of the genes encoded in these regions. The implications of these observations in terms of bacterial evolution, gene acquisition, and horizontal gene transfers are discussed.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society