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Establishment of a Functional Genomics Platform for Leifsonia xyli subsp. xyli

February 2004 , Volume 17 , Number  2
Pages  175 - 183

Stevens M. Brumbley , 1 , 2 Lars A. Petrasovits , 1 Rachel M. Murphy , 1 , 2 Roland J. Nagel , 1 Judith M. Candy , 1 and Scott R. Hermann 1 , 2

1BSES Limited, David North Plant Research Centre, 50 Meiers Rd, Indooroopilly, Queensland, 4068, Australia; 2CRC Tropical Plant Protection, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia

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Accepted 29 September 2003.

Leifsonia xyli subsp. xyli, the causal agent of ratoon stunting disease in sugarcane, is a xylem-limited, nutritionally fastidious, slow growing, gram-positive coryneform bacterium. Because of the difficulties in growing this bacterium in pure culture, little is known about the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis. Currently, the genome sequence of L. xyli subsp. xyli is being completed by the Agronomical and Environmental Genomes group from the Organization for Nucleotide Sequencing and Analysis in Brazil. To complement this work, we produced 712 Lxx∷Tn4431 transposon mutants and sequenced flanking regions from 383 of these, using a rapid polymerase chain reaction-based approach. Tn4431 insertions appeared to be widespread throughout the L. xyli subsp. xyli genome; however, there were regions that had significantly higher concentrations of insertions. The Tn4431 mutant library was screened for individuals unable to colonize sugarcane, and one noncolonizing mutant was found. The mutant contained a transposon insertion disrupting two open reading frames (ORF), one of which had homology to an integral membrane protein from Mycobacterium leprae. Sequencing of the surrounding regions revealed two operons, pro and cyd, both of which are believed to play roles in disease. Complementation studies were carried out using the noncolonizing Lxx∷Tn4431 mutant. The noncolonizing mutant was transformed with a cosmid containing 40 kbp of wild-type sequence, which included the two ORF disrupted in the mutant, and several transformants were subsequently able to colonize sugarcane. However, analysis of each of these transformants, before and after colonization, suggests that they have all undergone various recombinant events, obscuring the roles of these ORF in L. xyli subsp. xyli pathogenesis.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society