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Long- and Short-Chain Plant-Produced Bacterial N-Acyl-Homoserine Lactones Become Components of Phyllosphere, Rhizosphere, and Soil

March 2006 , Volume 19 , Number  3
Pages  227 - 239

Russell A. Scott , 1 Jason Weil , 1 Phuong T. Le , 1 Paul Williams , 2 Rupert G. Fray , 3 Susanne B. von Bodman , 4 and Michael A. Savka 1

1Department of Biological Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, U.S.A.; 2Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, 2nd Floor, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University Park, University of Nottingham, NG7 5Rd, U.K.; 3School of Biosciences, Plant Science Division, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, U.K.; 4Departments of Plant Sciences and Molecular Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, U.S.A.

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Accepted 28 October 2005.

Two N-acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) synthase genes, lasI from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and yenI from Yersinia enterocolitica, were introduced into tobacco, individually and in combination. Liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometry and thin-layer chromatography confirmed products of lasI and yenI activity in single and cotransformants. Cotransformants expressing plastid-localized LasI and YenI synthases produced the major acyl-HSLs for each synthase in all tissues tested. Total acyl-HSL signals accumulated in leaf tissue up to 3 pmol/mg of fresh weight, half as much in stem tissue, and approximately 10-fold less in root tissues. Acyl-HSLs were present in aqueous leaf washes from greenhouse-grown transgenic plants. Transgenic lines grown for 14 days under axenic conditions produced detectable levels of acyl-HSLs in root exudates. Ethyl acetate extractions of rhizosphere and nonrhizosphere soil from transgenically grown plants contained active acyl-HSLs, whereas plant-free soil or rhizosphere and nonrhizosphere soil from wild-type plants lacked detectable amounts of acyl-HSLs. This work shows that bioactive acyl-HSLs are exuded from leaves and roots and accumulate in the phytosphere of plants engineered to produce acyl-HSLs. These data further suggest that plants that are bioengineered to synthesize acyl-HSLs can foster beneficial plant-bacteria communications or deter deleterious interactions. Therefore, it is feasible to use bioengineered plants to supplement soils with specific acyl-HSLs to modulate bacterial phenotypes and plant-associated bacterial community structures.

Additional keywords: quorum sensing.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society