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Eop1 from a Rubus Strain of Erwinia amylovora Functions as a Host-Range Limiting Factor

August 2011 , Volume 101 , Number  8
Pages  935 - 944

J. E. Asselin, J. M. Bonasera, J. F. Kim, C.-S. Oh, and S. V. Beer

First, second, and fifth authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853; third author: Laboratory of Microbial Genomics and Systems/Synthetic Microbiology, Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, P.O. Box 115, Yuseong, Daejeon 305-600, Republic of Korea; and fourth author: Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY 14853, and Department of Horticultural Biotechnology, Kyung Hee University, Yong-In 446-701, Korea.

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Accepted for publication 14 March 2011.

Strains of Erwinia amylovora, the bacterium causing the disease fire blight of rosaceous plants, are separated into two groups based on host range: Spiraeoideae and Rubus strains. Spiraeoideae strains have wide host ranges, infecting plants in many rosaceous genera, including apple and pear. In the field, Rubus strains infect the genus Rubus exclusively, which includes raspberry and blackberry. Based on comparisons of limited sequence data from a Rubus and a Spiraeoideae strain, the gene eop1 was identified as unusually divergent, and it was selected as a possible host specificity factor. To test this, eop1 genes from a Rubus strain and a Spiraeoideae strain were cloned and mutated. Expression of the Rubus-strain eop1 reduced the virulence of E. amylovora in immature pear fruit and in apple shoots. Sequencing the orfA-eop1 regions of several strains of E. amylovora confirmed that forms of eop1 are conserved among strains with similar host ranges. This work provides evidence that eop1 from a Rubus-specific strain can function as a determinant of host specificity in E. amylovora.

© 2011 The American Phytopathological Society