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Pto- and Prf-Mediated Recognition of AvrPto and AvrPtoB Restricts the Ability of Diverse Pseudomonas syringae Pathovars to Infect Tomato

July 2007 , Volume 20 , Number  7
Pages  806 - 815

Nai-Chun Lin 1 , 2 and Gregory B. Martin 1 , 3

1Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Tower Rd., Ithaca, NY 14853-1801, U.S.A.; 2Department of Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan, Republic of China; 3Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4203, U.S.A.

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Accepted 19 February 2007.

The molecular basis underlying the ability of pathogens to infect certain plant species and not others is largely unknown. Pseudomonas syringae is a useful model species for investigating this phenomenon because it comprises more than 50 pathovars which have narrow host range specificities. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a host for P. syringae pv. tomato, the causative agent of bacterial speck disease, but is considered a nonhost for other P. syringae pathovars. Host resistance in tomato to bacterial speck disease is conferred by the Pto protein kinase which acts in concert with the Prf nucleotide-binding lucine-rich repeat protein to recognize P. syringae pv. tomato strains expressing the type III effectors AvrPto or AvrPtoB (HopAB2). The Pto and Prf genes were isolated from the wild tomato species S. pimpinellifolium and functional alleles of both of these genes now are known to exist in many species of tomato and in other Solanaceous species. Here, we extend earlier reports that avrPto and avrPtoB genes are widely distributed among pathovars of P. syringae which are considered nonhost pathogens of tomato. This observation prompted us to examine the possibility that recognition of these type III effectors by Pto or Prf might contribute to the inability of many P. syringae pathovars to infect tomato species. We show that 10 strains from presumed nonhost P. syringae pathovars are able to grow and cause pathovar-unique disease symptoms in tomato leaves lacking Pto or Prf, although they did not reach the population levels or cause symptoms as severe as a control P. syringae pv. tomato strain. Seven of these strains were found to express avrPto or avrPtoB. The AvrPto- and AvrPtoB-expressing strains elicited disease resistance on tomato leaves expressing Pto and Prf. Thus, a gene-for-gene recognition event may contribute to host range restriction of many P. syringae pathovars on tomato species. Furthermore, we conclude that the diverse disease symptoms caused by different Pseudomonas pathogens on their normal plant hosts are due largely to the array of virulence factors expressed by each pathovar and not to specific molecular or morphological attributes of the plant host.

Additional keywords: nonhost resistance, R genes.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society