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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GENETICS OF THE PATHOGEN-HOST INTERACTION IN SNAP BEAN, TOMATO, AND POTATO Title: Contribution of Flagellar Sigma Factor (FliA) to Virulence of Dickeya Dadantii

Authors
item Jahn, Courtney - UNIV OF WISC, MADISON
item Willis, David
item Charkowski, Amy - UNIV OF WISC, MADISON

Submitted to: Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 7, 2008
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
Citation: Jahn, C.E., Willis, D.K., Charkowski, A.O. 2008. Contribution of Flagellar Sigma Factor (FliA) to Virulence of Dickeya Dadantii. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. 21(11):1431-1442.

Interpretive Summary: We are studying the mechanism by which bacteria are able to cause plant disease. The enteric phytopathogen Dickeya dadantii causes wilting and soft rot in a wide range of plants, including many weed species, ornamental plants, and economically important crops. D. dadantii produces of a variety of cell wall-degrading enzymes, such as pectate lyases and cellulases, that cause tissue maceration and these enzymes are the primary pathogenicity factor of this enterobacterium. We hope to gain an understanding of the molecular biology of the genes and gene products that are required for the disease process by the bacteria. Ultimately, this understanding will provide information of use to breeders and plant molecular biologists that will enable the development of plant lines resistant to disease organisms. This manuscript describes the mutational analysis of virulence in D. dadantii. A surprising finding was that a new regulatory gene (fliA) was required for full virulence of this pathogen on host plants. Because this gene is a key contributor to virulence in D. dadantii, it is being looked into as a new target for disease control.

Technical Abstract: The ability to move in a directed manner affords advantages to host-adapted bacteria. This includes the ability to move toward a preferred host, access to infection sites, and escape back into the environment. The best understood flagella regulatory pathways are the transcriptional hierarchies of Escherichia coli and Salmonella Typhimurium. However data from other bacterial species suggests that the regulatory cascades and environmental effects on flagella gene expression cannot be generalized. The enteric phytopathogen Dickeya dadantii (formerly Erwinia chrysanthemi 3937) produce peritrichous flagella that are maintained in planta. The D. dadantii genome revealed homologs of all flagella genes, but arrangement of the operons differs from other enterobacteria. We recently found that FliA, the alternate sigma factor required for flagella production, is also required for full virulence and biofilm formation. In D. dadantii, FliA is required for full expression of pectate lyase activity, which may account, in part, for the reduced virulence of the fliA mutant. In related animal pathogens, FliA regulates virulence genes in addition to flagella genes. Because FliA is a key contributor to virulence in D. dadantii, it is being looked into as a new target for disease control.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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