An Xanthomonas citri pathogenicity gene, pthA, pleiotropically encodes gratuitous avirulence on nonhosts.

S. Swarup, Y. Yang, M. T. Kingsley, D. W. Gabriel

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The pathogenicity gene, pthA, of Xanthomonas citri is required to elicit symptoms of Asiatic citrus canker disease; introduction of pthA into Xanthomonas strains that are mildly pathogenic or opportunistic on citrus confers the ability to induce cankers on citrus (S. Swarup, R. De Feyter, R. H. Brlansky, and D. W. Gabriel, Phytopathology 81:802-809, 1991). The structure and the function of pthA in other xanthomonads and in X. citri were further investigated. When pthA was introduced into strains of X. phaseoli and X. campestris pv. malvacearum (neither pathogenic to citrus), the transconjugants remained nonpathogenic to citrus and elicited a hypersensitive response (HR) on their respective hosts, bean and cotton. In X. c. pv. malvacearum, pthA conferred cultivar-specific avirulence. Structurally, pthA is highly similar to avrBs3 and avrBsP from X. c. pv. vesicatoria and to avrB4, avrb6, avrb7, avrBIn, avrB101, and avrB102 from X. c. pv. malvacearum. Surprisingly, marker-exchanged pthA::Tn5-gusA mutant B21.2 of X. citri specifically lost the ability to induce the nonhost HR on bean, but retained the ability to induce the nonhost HR on cotton. The loss of the ability of B21.2 to elicit an HR on bean was restored by introduction of cloned pthA, indicating that the genetics of the nonhost HR may be the same as that found in homologous interactions involving specific avr genes. In contrast with expectations of homologous HR reactions, however, elimination of pthA function (resulting in loss of HR) did not result in water-soaking or even moderate levels of growth in planta of X. citri on bean; the nonhost HR, therefore, may not be responsible for the "resistance" of bean to X. citri and may not limit the host range of X. citri on bean. The pleiotropic avirulence function of pthA and the heterologous HR of bean to X. citri are both evidently gratuitous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-213
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular plant-microbe interactions : MPMI
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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