First and third authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, 3420 NW Orchard Avenue, Corvallis, Oregon 97330; and second author: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331
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Accepted for publication 12 July 2004.
Pseudomonas fluorescens A506 and Pantoea agglomerans strains Eh252 and C9-1 are biological control agents that suppress fire blight, an important disease of pear and apple caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. Pseudomonas fluorescens strain A506 suppresses disease largely through competitive exclusion of E. amylovora on surfaces of blossoms, the primary infection court, whereas Pantoea agglomerans strains Eh252 and C9-1 produce antibiotics that are toxic to E. amylovora. In this study, an extracellular protease produced by A506 is characterized and evaluated for its capacity to inactivate the antibiotics produced by the strains of Pantoea agglomerans. Activity of the extracellular protease was optimal at pH 9 and inhibited by zinc- or calcium-chelators, indicating that the protease is an alkaline metalloprotease. In an agar plate bioassay, partially purified extracellular protease inactivated the antibiotics mccEh252 and herbicolin O, which are produced by Pantoea agglomerans strains Eh252 and C9-1, respectively. Derivatives of A506 deficient in extracellular protease production were obtained by transposon mutagenesis, and the aprX gene encoding the protease was cloned and sequenced. Strain A506 inactivated mccEh252 and herbicolin O in agar plate bioassays, whereas the aprX mutant did not inactivate the antibiotics. Both A506 and the aprX mutant were insensitive to antibiosis by C9-1 and Eh252; thus, the protease was not required to protect A506 from antibiosis. These data highlight a previously unknown role of the extracellular protease produced by Pseudomonas fluorescens A506 in interactions among plant-associated microbes.
© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society