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Two Novel MvaT-Like Global Regulators Control Exoproduct Formation and Biocontrol Activity in Root-Associated Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0

March 2006 , Volume 19 , Number  3
Pages  313 - 329

Eric Baehler , 1 Patrice de Werra , 1 Lukas Y. Wick , 2 Maria Péchy-Tarr , 1 Sophie Mathys , 1 Monika Maurhofer , 3 and Christoph Keel 1

1Department of Fundamental Microbiology, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland; 2Department of Environmental Microbiology, Centre for Environmental Research (GmbH), UFZ, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany; 3Phytopathology group, Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland

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Accepted 24 October 2005.

Pseudomonas fluorescens CHA0 protects various crop plants against root diseases caused by pathogenic fungi. Among a range of exoproducts excreted by strain CHA0, the antifungal compounds 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG) and pyoluteorin (PLT) are particularly relevant to the strain's biocontrol potential. Here, we report on the characterization of MvaT and MvaV as novel regulators of biocontrol activity in strain CHA0. We establish the two proteins as further members of an emerging family of MvaT-like regulators in pseudomonads that are structurally and functionally related to the DNA-binding protein H-NS. In mvaT and mvaV in frame-deletion mutants of strain CHA0, PLT production was enhanced about four- and 1.5-fold, respectively, whereas DAPG production remained at wild-type levels. Remarkably, PLT production was increased up to 20-fold in an mvaT mvaV double mutant. DAPG biosynthesis was almost completely repressed in this mutant. The effects on antibiotic production could be confirmed by following expression of gfp-based reporter fusions to the corresponding biosynthetic genes. MvaT and MvaV also influenced levels of other exoproducts, motility, and physicochemical cell-surface properties to various extents. Compared with the wild type, mvaT and mvaV mutants had an about 20% reduced capacity (in terms of plant fresh weight) to protect cucumber from a root rot caused by Pythium ultimum. Biocontrol activity was nearly completely abolished in the double mutant. Our findings indicate that MvaT and MvaV act together as further global regulatory elements in the complex network controlling expression of biocontrol traits in plant-beneficial pseudomonads.

Additional keywords: biosurfactants, exoenzymes, hydrogen cyanide, rhizosphere.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society