Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, 900 University Avenue, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, U.S.A.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) from a variety of sources are often encountered by invading plant pathogens during the infection process. Pantoea stewartii subsp. stewartii, the etiological agent of Stewart's wilt, is a serious bacterial pathogen of sweet corn that colonizes both the apoplast and xylem tissues in which ROS are produced. The P. stewartii genome predicts the presence of two redox-sensing transcriptional regulators, OxyR and SoxR, which both activate gene expression in response to oxidative stress. ROS exposure in the form of hydrogen peroxide and the superoxide-generating compound paraquat initiates an induced stress response through OxyR and SoxR that includes activation of the ROS-detoxifying enzymes alkyl hydroperoxide reductase and superoxide dismutase. P. stewartii ΔsoxR was more sensitive to paraquat and was compromised in the ability to form water-soaked lesions, while ΔoxyR was more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide treatment and was deficient in exopolysaccharide production and the elicitation of wilting symptoms. This demonstrates that both SoxR and OxyR play an important role in virulence in the different niches that P. stewartii colonize during the infection process.