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Mutations of ousA Alter the Virulence of Erwinia chrysanthemi

February 2005 , Volume 18 , Number  2
Pages  150 - 157

Karine Gloux , 1 Thierry Touze , 2 Yves Pagot , 3 Bernard Jouan , 1 and Carlos Blanco 2

1INRA, Unité Mixte de Recherche des Organismes et des Populations appliquée á la Protection des Plantes, Domaine de la motte, B. P. 35327, 35653 Le Rheu Cedex, France; 2CNRS UMR 6026, Interactions Cellulaires et Moléculaires, Université de Rennes I, 263 Av. du Général Leclerc, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France; 3Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaire, UMR INA P. G., INRA 1238 CNRS 2585, BP 01. 78 850 Thiverval-Grignon, France

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Accepted 18 October 2004.

A negative correlation was observed between the aggressiveness of several Erwinia chrysanthemi strains on potato tuber and their osmotic tolerance. The disruption of the ousA gene encoding the major osmoprotectant uptake system highly enhanced bacterial virulence on potato tubers. The ousA disruption also increased the maceration efficiency on potato tubers under anaerobic conditions. In the absence of oxygen, pectate lyase (Pel) production was significantly higher in the tissue macerated with the ousA- strain than with the wild type. Oxygen content is significantly different between infected and healthy tissues; therefore, ousA may be a contributory factor in the infection progression within the host. In minimal medium, ousA disruption enhanced Pel production and pelE expression only under micro-aerobiosis conditions. The effect on Pel was reversed by reintroduction of the ousA gene. The osmoprotectectants glycine betaine, proline betaine, and pipecolic acid are known to be taken up via OusA and to have an inhibitory effect on Pel production. However, their effects on Pel activity were not (glycine betaine) or only weakly (proline and pipecolic acid) affected by ousA disruption. Furthermore, no correlation was observed between their effects on Pel activities and their osmoprotection efficacies. The results demonstrate a relationship between E. chrysanthemi pathogenicity factors and the activity of ousA under low oxygen status. The evidence indicates that ousA and osmoprotectant effects on Pel are not linked to osmoregulation and that complex regulations exist between Pel production, ousA, and osmoprotection via compounds liberated during the plant infection.

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society