Dawn R. D. Bignell,1
Isolde M. Francis,2
Joanna K. Fyans,1 and
1Department of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL A1B 3X9, Canada; 2Department of Plant Pathology, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611-0680, U.S.A.
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Accepted 19 March 2014.
Streptomyces scabies is the main causative agent of common scab disease, which leads to significant annual losses to potato growers worldwide. The main virulence factor produced by S. scabies is a phytotoxic secondary metabolite called thaxtomin A, which functions as a cellulose synthesis inhibitor. Thaxtomin A production is controlled by the cluster-situated regulator TxtR, which activates expression of the thaxtomin biosynthetic genes in response to cello-oligosaccharides. Here, we demonstrate that at least five additional regulatory genes are required for wild-type levels of thaxtomin A production and plant pathogenicity in S. scabies. These regulatory genes belong to the bld gene family of global regulators that control secondary metabolism or morphological differentiation in Streptomyces spp. Quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction showed that expression of the thaxtomin biosynthetic genes was significantly downregulated in all five bld mutants and, in four of these mutants, this downregulation was attributed to the reduction in expression of txtR. Furthermore, all of the mutants displayed reduced expression of other known or predicted virulence genes, suggesting that the bld genes may function as global regulators of virulence gene expression in S. scabies.
© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society