Understanding the soil bacterial resistome is essential to understanding the evolution and development of antibiotic resistance, and its spread between species and biomes. We have identified and characterized multi-drug resistance (MDR) mechanisms in the culturable soil antibiotic resistome and linked the resistance profiles to bacterial species. We isolated 412 antibiotic resistant bacteria from agricultural, urban and pristine soils. All isolates were multi-drug resistant, of which greater than 80% were resistant to 16–23 antibiotics, comprising almost all classes of antibiotic. The mobile resistance genes investigated, (ESBL, blaNDM-1, and plasmid mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) resistance genes) were not responsible for the respective resistance phenotypes nor were they present in the extracted soil DNA. Efflux was demonstrated to play an important role in MDR and many resistance phenotypes. Clinically relevant Burkholderia species are intrinsically resistant to ciprofloxacin but the soil Burkholderia species were not intrinsically resistant to ciprofloxacin. Using a phenotypic enzyme assay we identified the antibiotic specific inactivation of trimethoprim in 21 bacteria from different soils. The results of this study identified the importance of the efflux mechanism in the soil resistome and variations between the intrinsic resistance profiles of clinical and soil bacteria of the same family.
The plant pathogen Erwinia amylovora can be divided into two host-specific groupings; strains infecting a broad range of hosts within the Rosaceae subfamily Spiraeoideae (e.g., Malus, Pyrus, Crataegus, Sorbus) and strains infecting Rubus (raspberries and blackberries). Comparative genomic analysis of 12 strains representing distinct populations (e.g., geographic, temporal, host origin) of E. amylovora was used to describe the pan-genome of this major pathogen. The pan-genome contains 5751 coding sequences and is highly conserved relative to other phytopathogenic bacteria comprising on average 89% conserved, core genes. The chromosomes of Spiraeoideae-infecting strains were highly homogeneous, while greater genetic diversity was observed between Spiraeoideae- and Rubus-infecting strains (and among individual Rubus-infecting strains), the majority of which was attributed to variable genomic islands. Based on genomic distance scores and phylogenetic analysis, the Rubus-infecting strain ATCC BAA-2158 was genetically more closely related to the Spiraeoideae-infecting strains of E. amylovora than it was to the other Rubus-infecting strains. Analysis of the accessory genomes of Spiraeoideae- and Rubus-infecting strains has identified putative host-specific determinants including variation in the effector protein HopX1Ea and a putative secondary metabolite pathway only present in Rubus-infecting strains.
Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni is a quarantine bacterial pathogen that threatens peach production by causing necrotic spots on leaves and fruits, thus with the potential of severely reducing yields. The current understanding of the host plant defense responses to the pathogen is very limited. Using whole transcriptome sequencing, differential gene expression was analyzed at two time points, 2 h and 12 h post inoculation (hpi), by comparing the inoculated samples to their respective controls. On the total of 19,781 known peach genes that were expressed in all time points and conditions, 34 and 263 were differentially expressed at 2 and 12 hpi, respectively. Of those, 82% and 40% were up-regulated, respectively; and 18% and 60% were down-regulated, respectively. The functional annotation based on gene ontology (GO) analysis highlighted that genes involved in metabolic process and response to stress were particularly represented at 2 hpi whereas at 12 hpi cellular and metabolic processes were the categories with the highest number of genes differentially expressed. Of particular interest among the differentially expressed genes identified were several pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) receptors, disease resistance genes including several RPM1-like and pathogenesis related thaumatin encoding genes. Other genes involved in photosynthesis, in cell wall reorganization, in hormone signaling pathways or encoding cytochrome were also differentially expressed. In addition, novel transcripts were identified, providing another basis for further characterization of plant defense-related genes. Overall, this study gives a first insight of the peach defense mechanisms during the very early stages of infection with a bacterial disease in the case of a compatible interaction.
Pantoea vagans C9-1 is a biocontrol strain that produces at least two antibiotics inhibiting the growth of Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight disease of pear and apple. One antibiotic, herbicolin I, was purified from culture filtrates of P. vagans C9-1 and determined to be 2-amino-3-(oxirane-2,3-dicarboxamido)-propanoyl-valine, also known as Nß-epoxysuccinamoyl-DAP-valine. A plasposon library was screened for mutants that had lost the ability to produce herbicolin I. It was shown that mutants had reduced biocontrol efficacy in immature pear assays. The biosynthetic gene cluster in P. vagans C9-1 was identified by sequencing the flanking regions of the plasposon insertion sites. The herbicolin I biosynthetic gene cluster consists of 10 coding sequences (CDS) and is located on the 166-kb plasmid pPag2. Sequence comparisons identified orthologous gene clusters in Pantoea agglomerans CU0119 and Serratia proteamaculans 568. A low incidence of detection of the biosynthetic cluster in a collection of 45 Pantoea spp. from biocontrol, environmental, and clinical origins showed that this is a rare trait among the tested strains.
Pantoea spp. are frequently isolated from a wide range of ecological niches and have various biological roles, as plant epi- or endophytes, biocontrol agents, plant-growth promoters or as pathogens of both plant and animal hosts. This suggests that members of this genus have undergone extensive genotypic diversification. One means by which this occurs among bacteria is through the acquisition and maintenance of plasmids. Here, we have analyzed and compared the sequences of a large plasmid common to all sequenced Pantoea spp.
Results and discussion
The Large PantoeaPlasmids (LPP-1) of twenty strains encompassing seven different Pantoea species, including pathogens and endo-/epiphytes of a wide range of plant hosts as well as insect-associated strains, were compared. The LPP-1 plasmid sequences range in size from ~281 to 794 kb and carry between 238 and 750 protein coding sequences (CDS). A core set of 46 proteins, encompassing 2.2% of the total pan-plasmid (2,095 CDS), conserved among all LPP-1 plasmid sequences, includes those required for thiamine and pigment biosynthesis. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that these plasmids have arisen from an ancestral plasmid, which has undergone extensive diversification. Analysis of the proteins encoded on LPP-1 also showed that these plasmids contribute to a wide range of Pantoea phenotypes, including the transport and catabolism of various substrates, inorganic ion assimilation, resistance to antibiotics and heavy metals, colonization and persistence in the host and environment, pathogenesis and antibiosis.
LPP-1 is universal to all Pantoea spp. whose genomes have been sequenced to date and is derived from an ancestral plasmid. LPP-1 encodes a large array of proteins that have played a major role in the adaptation of the different Pantoea spp. to their various ecological niches and their specialization as pathogens, biocontrol agents or benign saprophytes found in many diverse environments.
The enterobacterium Pantoea ananatis is an ecologically versatile species. It has been found in the environment, as plant epiphyte and endophyte, as an emerging phytopathogen, and as a presumptive, opportunistic human pathogen. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of P. ananatis LMG 5342, isolated from a human wound.
This study examined differences in antibiotic-resistant soil bacteria and the presence and quantity of resistance genes in soils with a range of management histories. We analyzed four soils from agricultural systems that were amended with manure from animals treated with erythromycin and exposed to streptomycin and/or oxytetracycline, as well as non-manure-amended compost and forest soil. Low concentrations of certain antibiotic resistance genes were detected using multiplex quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), with tet(B), aad(A), and str(A) each present in only one soil and tet(M) and tet(W) detected in all soils. The most frequently detected resistance genes were tet(B), tet(D), tet(O), tet(T), and tet(W) for tetracycline resistance, str(A), str(B), and aac for streptomycin resistance, and erm(C), erm(V), erm(X), msr(A), ole(B), and vga for erythromycin resistance. Transposon genes specific for Tn916, Tn1549, TnB1230, Tn4451, and Tn5397 were detected in soil bacterial isolates. The MIC ranges of isolated bacteria for tetracycline, streptomycin, and erythromycin were 8 to >256 μg/ml, 6 to >1,024 μg/ml, and 0.094 to >256 μg/ml, respectively. Based on 16S rRNA gene similarity, isolated bacteria showed high sequence identity to genera typical of soil communities. Bacteria with the highest MICs were detected in manure-amended soils or soils from agricultural systems with a history of antibiotic use. Non-manure-amended soils yielded larger proportions of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but these had lower MICs, carried fewer antibiotic resistance genes, and did not display multidrug resistance (MDR).
Xanthomonas arboricola is a complex bacterial species which mainly attacks fruit trees and is responsible for emerging diseases in Europe. It comprises seven pathovars (X. arboricola pv. pruni, X. arboricola pv. corylina, X. arboricola pv. juglandis, X. arboricola pv. populi, X. arboricola pv. poinsettiicola, X. arboricola pv. celebensis, and X. arboricola pv. fragariae), each exhibiting characteristic disease symptoms and distinct host specificities. To better understand the factors underlying this ecological trait, we first assessed the phylogenetic relationships among a worldwide collection of X. arboricola strains by sequencing the housekeeping gene rpoD. This analysis revealed that strains of X. arboricola pathovar populi are divergent from the main X. arboricola cluster formed by all other strains. Then, we investigated the distribution of 53 type III effector (T3E) genes in a collection of 57 X. arboricola strains that are representative of the main X. arboricola cluster. Our results showed that T3E repertoires vary greatly between X. arboricola pathovars in terms of size. Indeed, X. arboricola pathovars pruni, corylina, and juglandis, which are responsible for economically important stone fruit and nut diseases in Europe, harbored the largest T3E repertoires, whereas pathovars poinsettiicola, celebensis, and fragariae harbored the smallest. We also identified several differences in T3E gene content between X. arboricola pathovars pruni, corylina, and juglandis which may account for their differing host specificities. Further, we examined the allelic diversity of eight T3E genes from X. arboricola pathovars. This analysis revealed very limited allelic variations at the different loci. Altogether, the data presented here provide new insights into the evolution of pathogenicity and host range of X. arboricola and are discussed in terms of emergence of new diseases within this bacterial species.
A diverse set of 24 novel phages infecting the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora was isolated from fruit production environments in Switzerland. Based on initial screening, four phages (L1, M7, S6, and Y2) with broad host ranges were selected for detailed characterization and genome sequencing. Phage L1 is a member of the Podoviridae, with a 39.3-kbp genome featuring invariable genome ends with direct terminal repeats. Phage S6, another podovirus, was also found to possess direct terminal repeats but has a larger genome (74.7 kbp), and the virus particle exhibits a complex tail fiber structure. Phages M7 and Y2 both belong to the Myoviridae family and feature long, contractile tails and genomes of 84.7 kbp (M7) and 56.6 kbp (Y2), respectively, with direct terminal repeats. The architecture of all four phage genomes is typical for tailed phages, i.e., organized into function-specific gene clusters. All four phages completely lack genes or functions associated with lysogeny control, which correlates well with their broad host ranges and indicates strictly lytic (virulent) lifestyles without the possibility for host lysogenization. Comparative genomics revealed that M7 is similar to E. amylovora virus ΦEa21-4, whereas L1, S6, and Y2 are unrelated to any other E. amylovora phage. Instead, they feature similarities to enterobacterial viruses T7, N4, and ΦEcoM-GJ1. In a series of laboratory experiments, we provide proof of concept that specific two-phage cocktails offer the potential for biocontrol of the pathogen.
The LuxS enzyme, an S-ribosyl-homocysteine lyase, catalyzes the production of the signal precursor for autoinducer-2 mediated quorum sensing (QS-2) in Vibrio. Its widespread occurrence among bacteria is often considered the evidence for a universal language for interspecies communication. Presence of the luxS gene and production of the autoinducer-2 (AI-2) signal have repeatedly been the only evidences presented to assign a functional QS-2 to the most diverse species. In fact, LuxS has a primary metabolic role as part of the activated methyl cycle. In this review we have analyzed the distribution of QS-2 related genes in Enterobacteriaceae by moving the focus of the investigation from AI-2 production to the detection of potential AI-2 receptors. The latter are common in pathogens or endosymbionts of animals, but were also found in a limited number of Enterobacteriaceae of the genera Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Pantoea that live in close association with plants or fungi. Although a precise function of QS-2 in these species has not been identified, they all show an endophytic or endosymbiontic lifestyle that suggests a role of type-2 quorum sensing in the adaptation to closed ecosystems.
LuxS; N-acyl homoserine lactone; Erwinia; Pantoea; Salmonella; Serratia; Enterobacter; metabolism; autoinducer; plant pathogen; nitrogen fixation
Comparative genomics of several strains of Erwinia amylovora, a plant pathogenic bacterium causal agent of fire blight disease, revealed that its diversity is primarily attributable to the flexible genome comprised of plasmids. We recently identified and sequenced in full a novel 65.8 kb plasmid, called pEI70. Annotation revealed a lack of known virulence-related genes, but found evidence for a unique integrative conjugative element related to that of other plant and human pathogens. Comparative analyses using BLASTN showed that pEI70 is almost entirely included in plasmid pEB102 from E. billingiae, an epiphytic Erwinia of pome fruits, with sequence identities superior to 98%. A duplex PCR assay was developed to survey the prevalence of plasmid pEI70 and also that of pEA29, which had previously been described in several E. amylovora strains. Plasmid pEI70 was found widely dispersed across Europe with frequencies of 5–92%, but it was absent in E. amylovora analyzed populations from outside of Europe. Restriction analysis and hybridization demonstrated that this plasmid was identical in at least 13 strains. Curing E. amylovora strains of pEI70 reduced their aggressiveness on pear, and introducing pEI70 into low-aggressiveness strains lacking this plasmid increased symptoms development in this host. Discovery of this novel plasmid offers new insights into the biogeography, evolution and virulence determinants in E. amylovora.
The clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/Cas system confers acquired heritable immunity against mobile nucleic acid elements in prokaryotes, limiting phage infection and horizontal gene transfer of plasmids. In CRISPR arrays, characteristic repeats are interspersed with similarly sized nonrepetitive spacers derived from transmissible genetic elements and acquired when the cell is challenged with foreign DNA. New spacers are added sequentially and the number and type of CRISPR units can differ among strains, providing a record of phage/plasmid exposure within a species and giving a valuable typing tool. The aim of this work was to investigate CRISPR diversity in the highly homogeneous species Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight. A total of 18 CRISPR genotypes were defined within a collection of 37 cosmopolitan strains. Strains from Spiraeoideae plants clustered in three major groups: groups II and III were composed exclusively of bacteria originating from the United States, whereas group I generally contained strains of more recent dissemination obtained in Europe, New Zealand, and the Middle East. Strains from Rosoideae and Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica) clustered separately and displayed a higher intrinsic diversity than that of isolates from Spiraeoideae plants. Reciprocal exclusion was generally observed between plasmid content and cognate spacer sequences, supporting the role of the CRISPR/Cas system in protecting against foreign DNA elements. However, in several group III strains, retention of plasmid pEU30 is inconsistent with a functional CRISPR/Cas system.
The Type VI secretion apparatus is assembled by a conserved set of proteins encoded within a distinct locus. The putative effector proteins Hcp and VgrG are also encoded within these loci. We have identified numerous distinct Type VI secretion system (T6SS) loci in the genomes of several ecologically diverse Pantoea and Erwinia species and detected the presence of putative effector islands associated with the hcp and vgrG genes.
Between two and four T6SS loci occur among the Pantoea and Erwinia species. While two of the loci (T6SS-1 and T6SS-2) are well conserved among the various strains, the third (T6SS-3) locus is not universally distributed. Additional orthologous loci are present in Pantoea sp. aB-valens and Erwinia billingiae Eb661. Comparative analysis of the T6SS-1 and T6SS-3 loci showed non-conserved islands associated with the vgrG and hcp, and vgrG genes, respectively. These regions had a G+C content far lower than the conserved portions of the loci. Many of the proteins encoded within the hcp and vgrG islands carry conserved domains, which suggests they may serve as effector proteins for the T6SS. A number of the proteins also show homology to the C-terminal extensions of evolved VgrG proteins.
Extensive diversity was observed in the number and content of the T6SS loci among the Pantoea and Erwinia species. Genomic islands could be observed within some of T6SS loci, which are associated with the hcp and vgrG proteins and carry putative effector domain proteins. We propose new hypotheses concerning a role for these islands in the acquisition of T6SS effectors and the development of novel evolved VgrG and Hcp proteins.
The genome of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Weltevreden strain 2007-60-3289-1 was sequenced. The genome sequence of this fresh-vegetable isolate from Scandinavia will be useful for the elucidation of plant host factors in comparison to other serovars of S. enterica subsp. enterica.
Here, we present the genome of a strain of Erwinia amylovora, the fire blight pathogen, with pathogenicity restricted to Rubus spp. Comparative genomics of ATCC BAA-2158 with E. amylovora strains from non-Rubus hosts identified significant genetic differences but support the inclusion of this strain within the species E. amylovora.
Pantoea vagans is a commercialized biological control agent used against the pome fruit bacterial disease fire blight, caused by Erwinia amylovora. Compared to other biocontrol agents, relatively little is currently known regarding Pantoea genetics. Better understanding of antagonist mechanisms of action and ecological fitness is critical to improving efficacy.
Genome analysis indicated two major factors contribute to biocontrol activity: competition for limiting substrates and antibacterial metabolite production. Pathways for utilization of a broad diversity of sugars and acquisition of iron were identified. Metabolism of sorbitol by P. vagans C9-1 may be a major metabolic feature in biocontrol of fire blight. Biosynthetic genes for the antibacterial peptide pantocin A were found on a chromosomal 28-kb genomic island, and for dapdiamide E on the plasmid pPag2. There was no evidence of potential virulence factors that could enable an animal or phytopathogenic lifestyle and no indication of any genetic-based biosafety risk in the antagonist.
Identifying key determinants contributing to disease suppression allows the development of procedures to follow their expression in planta and the genome sequence contributes to rationale risk assessment regarding the use of the biocontrol strain in agricultural systems.
Pantoea vagans is a Gram-negative enterobacterial plant epiphyte of a broad range of plants. Here we report the 4.89-Mb genome sequence of P. vagans strain C9-1 (formerly Pantoea agglomerans), which is commercially registered for biological control of fire blight, a disease of pear and apple trees caused by Erwinia amylovora.
Pantoea agglomerans is an ecologically diverse taxon that includes commercially important plant-beneficial strains and opportunistic clinical isolates. Standard biochemical identification methods in diagnostic laboratories were repeatedly shown to run into false-positive identifications of P. agglomerans, a fact which is also reflected by the high number of 16S rRNA gene sequences in public databases that are incorrectly assigned to this species. More reliable methods for rapid identification are required to ascertain the prevalence of this species in clinical samples and to evaluate the biosafety of beneficial isolates. Whole-cell matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) methods and reference spectra (SuperSpectrum) were developed for accurate identification of P. agglomerans and related bacteria and used to detect differences in the protein profile within variants of the same strain, including a ribosomal point mutation conferring streptomycin resistance. MALDI-TOF MS-based clustering was shown to generally agree with classification based on gyrB sequencing, allowing rapid and reliable identification at the species level.
Microarrays are powerful tools for DNA-based molecular diagnostics and identification of pathogens. Most target a limited range of organisms and are based on only one or a very few genes for specific identification. Such microarrays are limited to organisms for which specific probes are available, and often have difficulty discriminating closely related taxa. We have developed an alternative broad-spectrum microarray that employs hybridisation fingerprints generated by high-density anonymous markers distributed over the entire genome for identification based on comparison to a reference database.
A high-density microarray carrying 95,000 unique 13-mer probes was designed. Optimized methods were developed to deliver reproducible hybridisation patterns that enabled confident discrimination of bacteria at the species, subspecies, and strain levels. High correlation coefficients were achieved between replicates. A sub-selection of 12,071 probes, determined by ANOVA and class prediction analysis, enabled the discrimination of all samples in our panel. Mismatch probe hybridisation was observed but was found to have no effect on the discriminatory capacity of our system.
These results indicate the potential of our genome chip for reliable identification of a wide range of bacterial taxa at the subspecies level without laborious prior sequencing and probe design. With its high resolution capacity, our proof-of-principle chip demonstrates great potential as a tool for molecular diagnostics of broad taxonomic groups.
Erwinia pyrifoliae is a newly described necrotrophic pathogen, which causes fire blight on Asian (Nashi) pear and is geographically restricted to Eastern Asia. Relatively little is known about its genetics compared to the closely related main fire blight pathogen E. amylovora.
The genome of the type strain of E. pyrifoliae strain DSM 12163T, was sequenced using both 454 and Solexa pyrosequencing and annotated. The genome contains a circular chromosome of 4.026 Mb and four small plasmids. Based on their respective role in virulence in E. amylovora or related organisms, we identified several putative virulence factors, including type III and type VI secretion systems and their effectors, flagellar genes, sorbitol metabolism, iron uptake determinants, and quorum-sensing components. A deletion in the rpoS gene covering the most conserved region of the protein was identified which may contribute to the difference in virulence/host-range compared to E. amylovora. Comparative genomics with the pome fruit epiphyte Erwinia tasmaniensis Et1/99 showed that both species are overall highly similar, although specific differences were identified, for example the presence of some phage gene-containing regions and a high number of putative genomic islands containing transposases in the E. pyrifoliae DSM 12163T genome.
The E. pyrifoliae genome is an important addition to the published genome of E. tasmaniensis and the unfinished genome of E. amylovora providing a foundation for re-sequencing additional strains that may shed light on the evolution of the host-range and virulence/pathogenicity of this important group of plant-associated bacteria.
Streptomycin is used in plant agriculture for bacterial disease control, particularly against fire blight in pome fruit orchards. Concerns that this may increase environmental antibiotic resistance have led to bans or restrictions on use. Experience with antibiotic use in animal feeds raises the possible influence of formulation-delivered resistance genes. We demonstrate that agricultural streptomycin formulations do not carry producer organism resistance genes. By using an optimized extraction procedure, Streptomyces 16S rRNA genes and the streptomycin resistance gene strA were not detected in agricultural streptomycin formulations. This diminishes the likelihood for one potential factor in resistance development due to streptomycin use.
Pantoea agglomerans strains are among the most promising biocontrol agents for a variety of bacterial and fungal plant diseases, particularly fire blight of apple and pear. However, commercial registration of P. agglomerans biocontrol products is hampered because this species is currently listed as a biosafety level 2 (BL2) organism due to clinical reports as an opportunistic human pathogen. This study compares plant-origin and clinical strains in a search for discriminating genotypic/phenotypic markers using multi-locus phylogenetic analysis and fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphisms (fAFLP) fingerprinting.
Majority of the clinical isolates from culture collections were found to be improperly designated as P. agglomerans after sequence analysis. The frequent taxonomic rearrangements underwent by the Enterobacter agglomerans/Erwinia herbicola complex may be a major problem in assessing clinical associations within P. agglomerans. In the P. agglomerans sensu stricto (in the stricter sense) group, there was no discrete clustering of clinical/biocontrol strains and no marker was identified that was uniquely associated to clinical strains. A putative biocontrol-specific fAFLP marker was identified only in biocontrol strains. The partial ORF located in this band corresponded to an ABC transporter that was found in all P. agglomerans strains.
Taxonomic mischaracterization was identified as a major problem with P. agglomerans, and current techniques removed a majority of clinical strains from this species. Although clear discrimination between P. agglomerans plant and clinical strains was not obtained with phylogenetic analysis, a single marker characteristic of biocontrol strains was identified which may be of use in strain biosafety determinations. In addition, the lack of Koch's postulate fulfilment, rare retention of clinical strains for subsequent confirmation, and the polymicrobial nature of P. agglomerans clinical reports should be considered in biosafety assessment of beneficial strains in this species.
Great excitement accompanied discoveries over the last decade in several Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria of the LuxS protein, which catalyzes production of the AI-2 autoinducer molecule for a second quorum sensing system (QS-2). Since the luxS gene was found to be widespread among the most diverse bacterial taxa, it was hypothesized that AI-2 may constitute the basis of a universal microbial language, a kind of bacterial Esperanto. Many of the studies published in this field have drawn a direct correlation between the occurrence of the luxS gene in a given organism and the presence and functionality of a QS-2 therein. However, rarely hathe existence of potential AI-2 receptors been examined. This is important, since it is now well recognized that LuxS also holds a central role as a metabolic enzyme in the activated methyl cycle which is responsible for the generation of S-adenosyl-L-methionine, the major methyl donor in the cell.
In order to assess whether the role of LuxS in these bacteria is indeed related to AI-2 mediated quorum sensing we analyzed genomic databases searching for established AI-2 receptors (i.e., LuxPQ-receptor of Vibrio harveyi and Lsr ABC-transporter of Salmonella typhimurium) and other presumed QS-related proteins and compared the outcome with published results about the role of QS-2 in these organisms. An unequivocal AI-2 related behavior was restricted primarily to organisms bearing known AI-2 receptor genes, while phenotypes of luxS mutant bacteria lacking these genes could often be explained simply by assuming deficiencies in sulfur metabolism.
Genomic analysis shows that while LuxPQ is restricted to Vibrionales, the Lsr-receptor complex is mainly present in pathogenic bacteria associated with endotherms. This suggests that QS-2 may play an important role in interactions with animal hosts. In most other species, however, the role of LuxS appears to be limited to metabolism, although in a few cases the presence of yet unknown receptors or the adaptation of pre-existent effectors to QS-2 must be postulated.
Erwinia amylovora causes fire blight disease of apple, pear, and other members of the Rosaceae. Here we present the first evidence for autoinduction in E. amylovora and a role for an N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL)-type signal. Two major plant virulence traits, production of extracellular polysaccharides (amylovoran and levan) and tolerance to free oxygen radicals, were controlled in a bacterial-cell-density-dependent manner. Two standard autoinducer biosensors, Agrobacterium tumefaciens NTL4 and Vibrio harveyi BB886, detected AHL in stationary-phase cultures of E. amylovora. A putative AHL synthase gene, eamI, was partially sequenced, which revealed homology with autoinducer genes from other bacterial pathogens (e.g., carI, esaI, expI, hsII, yenI, and luxI). E. amylovora was also found to carry eamR, a convergently transcribed gene with homology to luxR AHL activator genes in pathogens such as Erwinia carotovora. Heterologous expression of the Bacillus sp. strain A24 acyl-homoserine lactonase gene aiiA in E. amylovora abolished induction of AHL biosensors, impaired extracellular polysaccharide production and tolerance to hydrogen peroxide, and reduced virulence on apple leaves.