Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, U.S.A.
Many phytopathogenic type III secretion effector proteins (T3Es) have been shown to target and suppress plant immune signaling but perturbation of the plant immune system by T3Es can also elicit a plant response. XopX is a “core” Xanthomonas T3E that contributes to growth and symptom development during Xanthomonas euvesicatoria infection of tomato but its functional role is undefined. We tested the effect of XopX on several aspects of plant immune signaling. XopX promoted ethylene production and plant cell death (PCD) during X. euvesicatoria infection of susceptible tomato and in transient expression assays in Nicotiana benthamiana, which is consistent with its requirement for the development of X. euvesicatoria-induced disease symptoms. Additionally, although XopX suppressed flagellin-induced reactive oxygen species, it promoted the accumulation of pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) gene transcripts. Surprisingly, XopX coexpression with other PCD elicitors resulted in delayed PCD, suggesting antagonism between XopX-dependent PCD and other PCD pathways. However, we found no evidence that XopX contributed to the suppression of effector-triggered immunity during X. euvesicatoria–tomato interactions, suggesting that XopX's primary virulence role is to modulate PTI. These results highlight the dual role of a core Xanthomonas T3E in simultaneously suppressing and activating plant defense responses.