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All Five Host-Range Variants of Xanthomonas citri Carry One pthA Homolog With 17.5 Repeats That Determines Pathogenicity on Citrus, but None Determine Host-Range Variation

August 2007 , Volume 20 , Number  8
Pages  934 - 943

Abdulwahid Al-Saadi , Joseph D. Reddy , Yong P. Duan , Asha M. Brunings , Qiaoping Yuan , and Dean W. Gabriel

Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, Plant Pathology Dept., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, U.S.A.

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Accepted 5 April 2007.

Citrus canker disease is caused by five groups of Xanthomonas citri strains that are distinguished primarily by host range: three from Asia (A, A*, and Aw) and two that form a phylogenetically distinct clade and originated in South America (B and C). Every X. citri strain carries multiple DNA fragments that hybridize with pthA, which is essential for the pathogenicity of wide-host-range X. citri group A strain 3213. DNA fragments that hybridized with pthA were cloned from a representative strain from all five groups. Each strain carried one and only one pthA homolog that functionally complemented a knockout mutation of pthA in 3213. Every complementing homolog was of identical size to pthA and carried 17.5 nearly identical, direct tandem repeats, including three new genes from narrow-host-range groups C (pthC), Aw (pthAW), and A* (pthA*). Every noncomplementing paralog was of a different size; one of these was sequenced from group A* (pthA*-2) and was found to have an intact promoter and full-length reading frame but with 15.5 repeats. None of the complementing homologs nor any of the noncomplementing paralogs conferred avirulence to 3213 on grapefruit or suppressed avirulence of a group A* strain on grapefruit. A knockout mutation of pthC in a group C strain resulted in loss of pathogenicity on lime, but the strain was unaffected in ability to elicit an HR on grapefruit. This pthC- mutant was fully complemented by pthA, pthB, or pthC. Analysis of the predicted amino-acid sequences of all functional pthA homologs and nonfunctional paralogs indicated that the specific sequence of the 17th repeat may be essential for pathogenicity of X. citri on citrus.

Additional keywords: avr, gene-for-gene, resistance, specificity.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society