Groupe de Recherche en Biologie des Actinomycètes, Département de Biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada, J1K 2R1
To investigate the role of thaxtomin A in the pathogenicity of Streptomyces scabies, mutants altered in thaxtomin A production were obtained by N-methyl-N′-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine mutagenesis. Mutants of S. scabies EF-35 could be differentiated according to levels of thaxtomin production. Mutants M1, M8, and M19 produced 2 to 20 times less thaxtomin A in oat bran medium than did EF-35. M1 and M19 were deficient in tryptophan catabolism. Thaxtomin production was reduced by about 300 times in mutant M16, which was a glutamic acid auxotroph. No thaxtomin A was detected in M13 culture supernatant. This mutant had a normal growth rate, was prototrophic, and catabolized tryptophan. Pathogenicity of mutants was tested on radish and potato. Mutants M1, M8, and M19 were pathogenic but, in most cases, less virulent than EF-35. M13 and M16 were nonpathogenic. These results suggest that thaxtomin A is an important pathogenicity determinant in S. scabies.