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Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Wiedmaier-Czerny, N. ; Schroth, D. ; Topman-Rakover, S. ; Brill, A. ; Burdman, S. ; Hayouka, Z. ; Vetter, W. Detailed analysis of the fatty acid composition of six plant-pathogenic bacteria. JOURNAL OF CHROMATOGRAPHY B-ANALYTICAL TECHNOLOGIES IN THE BIOMEDICAL AND LIFE SCIENCES 2021, 1162.Abstract
Bacteria show distinct and characteristic fatty acid (FA) patterns which can be modified by environmental conditions. In this study, we cultivated six plant-pathogenic bacteria of agricultural concern and performed a detailed analysis of the fatty acid composition. The study covered four strains of the gram-negative Xanthomonas campestris pathovar (pv) campestris (Xcc), Xanthomonas perforans (Xp), Acidovorax citrulli (Ac) and Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pst), and two strains of the gram-positive Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (Cmm) and Streptomyces scabies (Ssc). After cultivation, freeze-dried bacteria samples were transesterified and analysed by gas chromatography with mass spectrometry in full scan and selected ion monitoring (SIM) modes. Altogether, 44 different FAs were detected in the six strains with individual contributions of 0.01-43.8% to the total FAs. The variety in the six strains ranged between 12 and 31 individual FAs. The FA composition of Xcc, Xp, Cmm and Ssc were dominated by iso- and anteiso-fatty acids (especially i15:0, a15:0, i16:0), which is typical for most bacteria. In contrast to this, Ac and Pst showed only saturated and monounsaturated FAs. Four of the six bacteria showed similar FA patterns as reported before in the literature. Differences were observed in the case of Cmm where many more FAs were detected in the present study. In addition, to the best of our knowledge, the FA pattern of Xp was presented for the first time.
Joshi, J. R. ; Khazanov, N. ; Khadka, N. ; Charkowski, A. O. ; Burdman, S. ; Carmi, N. ; Yedidia, I. ; Senderowitz, H. Direct Binding of Salicylic Acid to Pectobacterium N-Acyl-Homoserine Lactone Synthase. ACS CHEMICAL BIOLOGY 2020, 15, 1883-1891.Abstract
Salicylic acid (SA) is a hormone that mediates systemic acquired resistance in plants. We demonstrated that SA can interfere with group behavior and virulence of the soft-rot plant pathogen Pectobacterium spp. through quorum sensing (QS) inhibition. QS is a population density-dependent communication system that relies on the signal molecule acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) to synchronize infection. P. parmentieri mutants, lacking the QS AHL synthase (expI(-)) or the response regulator (expR(-)), were used to determine how SA inhibits QS. ExpI was expressed in DHS alpha, the QS negative strain of Escherichia coli, revealing direct interference of SA with AHL synthesis. Docking simulations showed SA is a potential ExpI ligand. This hypothesis was further confirmed by direct binding of SA to purified ExpI, shown by isothermal titration calorimetry and microscale thermophoresis. Computational alanine scanning was employed to design a mutant ExpI with predicted weaker binding affinity to SA. The mutant was constructed and displayed lower affinity to the ligand in the binding assay, and its physiological inhibition by SA was reduced. Taken together, these data support a likely mode of action and a role for SA as potent inhibitor of AHL synthase and QS.
Zhao, M. ; Dutta, B. ; Luo, X. ; Burdman, S. ; Walcott, R. Genetically Distinct Acidovorax citrulli Strains Display Cucurbit Fruit Preference Under Field Conditions. PHYTOPATHOLOGY 2020, 110, 973-980.Abstract
Strains of Acidovorax citrulli, the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) of cucurbits, can be assigned to two groups, I and II. The natural association of group I and II strains with different cucurbit species suggests host preference; however, there are no direct data to support this hypothesis under field conditions. Hence, the objective of this study was to assess differences in the prevalence of group I and II A. citrulli strains on cucurbit species in the field. From 2017 to 2019, we used group I and II strains to initiate BFB outbreaks in field plots planted with four cucurbit species. At different times, we collected symptomatic tissues and assayed them for group I and II strains using a group-specific PCR assay. Binary distribution data analysis revealed that the odds of melon, pumpkin, and squash foliage infection by group I strains were 21.7, 11.5, and 22.1 times greater, respectively, than the odds of watermelon foliage infection by the group I strain (P < 0.0001). More strikingly, the odds of melon fruit infection by the group I strain were 97.5 times greater than watermelon fruit infection by the same strain (P < 0.0001). Unexpectedly, some of the group II isolates recovered from the 2017 and 2019 studies were different from the group II strains used as inocula. Overall, data from these experiments confirm that A. citrulli strains exhibit a preference for watermelon and melon, which is more pronounced in fruit tissues.
Chalupowicz, L. ; Reuven, M. ; Dror, O. ; Sela, N. ; Burdman, S. ; Manulis-Sasson, S. Characterization of Acidovorax citrulli strains isolated from solanaceous plants. PLANT PATHOLOGY 2020, 69, 1787-1797.Abstract
Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch disease of cucurbits. Strains of this pathogen are distributed into two major groups: Group I strains have been mainly isolated from melon and other non-watermelon cucurbits, while Group II strains have been mainly recovered from watermelon. Here we report the characterization of strains T1 and EP isolated from diseased tomato and eggplant plants, respectively, and further confirmed to belong to A. citrulli species. Based on PCR, PFGE, and rep-PCR, these strains showed high similarity to the Group II strain 7a1. Sequencing and comparative analyses revealed that the genomes of T1 and EP aligned with that of the Group II model strain AAC00-1, over 97.88% and 99.22%, respectively. The virulence of T1, EP, and 7a1 determined on tomato, eggplant, and watermelon was similar and significantly higher than that of Group I strain M6. In contrast, M6 was more virulent on melon. Expression levels of seven virulence genes measured 24 hr after inoculation of tomato, eggplant, watermelon, and melon showed that the expression pattern was generally similar in strains 7a1, T1, and EP, whereas for M6 the expression was high only on melon. Overall, our results indicate that the solanaceous strains belong to Group II. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that reports characterization of A. citrulli strains isolated from solanaceous species. The fact that A. citrulli is able to naturally colonize and cause disease in non-cucurbit crops poses additional challenges for management of this important pathogen.
Topman-Rakover, S. ; Malach, E. ; Burdman, S. ; Hayouka, Z. Antibacterial lipo-random peptide mixtures exhibit high selectivity and synergistic interactions. CHEMICAL COMMUNICATIONS 2020, 56, 12053-12056.Abstract
Random peptide mixtures (RPMs) have been recently proposed as powerful antimicrobial compounds. These are unique mixtures of peptides synthesized by random combination of a cationic and a hydrophobic amino acid. Here, we introduce a new type of antimicrobial compounds, short lipo-RPMs, which result fromN-palmitoylation of RPMs. We report the characterization of 5-mer lipo-RPMs containingl-phenylalanine andd-lysine, named p-FdK5. p-FdK5 had high antibacterial activity against several bacterial strains and was able to reduce disease severity caused by a plant pathogen. We further synthesized and studied all 32 (2(5)) possible lipopeptides that compose the p-FdK5 mixture. We showed that the antibacterial activity of specific lipopeptides depends on the peptide hydrophobicity and on the location of the hydrophobic amino acids relative to the palmitic acid. Interestingly, synergism assays revealed positive interactions between different sequence-specific lipopeptides in terms of antimicrobial activity.
Youdkes, D. ; Helman, Y. ; Burdman, S. ; Matan, O. ; Jurkevitch, E. Potential Control of Potato Soft Rot Disease by the Obligate Predators Bdellovibrio and Like Organisms. APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY 2020, 86.Abstract
Bacterial soft rot diseases caused by Pectobacterium spp. and Dickeya spp. affect a wide range of crops, including potatoes, a major food crop. As of today, farmers mostly rely on sanitary practices, water management, and plant nutrition for control. We tested the bacterial predators Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) to control potato soft rot. BALOs are small, motile predatory bacteria found in terrestrial and aquatic environments. They prey on a wide range of Gram-negative bacteria, including animal and plant pathogens. To this end, BALO strains HD100, 1091, and a Delta merRNA derivative of HD100 were shown to efficiently prey on various rot-causing strains of Pectobacterium and Dickeya solani. BALO control of maceration caused by a highly virulent strain of Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. brasilense was then tested in situ using a potato slice assay. All BALO strains were highly effective at reducing disease, up to complete prevention. Effectivity was concentration dependent, and BALOs applied before P. carotovorum subsp. brasilense inoculation performed significantly better than those applied after the disease-causing agent, maybe due to in situ consumption of glucose by the prey, as glucose metabolism by live prey bacteria was shown to prevent predation. Dead predators and the supernatant of BALO cultures did not significantly prevent maceration, indicating that predation was the major mechanism for the prevention of the disease. Finally, plastic resistance to predation was affected by prey and predator population parameters, suggesting that population dynamics affect prey response to predation. IMPORTANCE Bacterial soft rot diseases caused by Pectobacterium spp. and Dickeya spp. are among the most important plant diseases caused by bacteria. Among other crops, they inflict large-scale damage to potatoes. As of today, farmers have few options to control them. The bacteria Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are obligate predators of bacteria. We tested their potential to prey on Pectobacterium spp. and Dickeya spp. and to protect potato. We show that different BALOs can prey on soft rot-causing bacteria and prevent their growth in situ, precluding tissue maceration. Dead predators and the supernatant of BALO cultures did not significantly prevent maceration, showing that the effect is due to predation. Soft rot control by the predators was concentration dependent and was higher when the predator was inoculated ahead of the prey. As residual prey remained, we investigated what determines their level and found that initial prey and predator population parameters affect prey response to predation.
Kan, Y. ; Lyu, Q. ; Jiang, N. ; Han, S. ; Li, J. ; Burdman, S. ; Luo, L. iTRAQ-based proteomic analyses of the plant-pathogenic bacterium Acidovorax citrulli during entrance into and resuscitation from the viable but nonculturable state. Journal of Proteomics 2020, 211. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Acidovorax citrulli, the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) disease, infects cucurbit crops including watermelon and melon. This bacterium can enter the viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state following exposure to copper sulfate. Moreover, copper-induced VBNC A. citrulli cells can be resuscitated by EDTA. In this study, isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) was used to compare protein profiles of VBNC cells, resuscitated cells at different stages and log-phase cells of the A. citrulli model strain AAC00-1. A total of 2672 proteins were identified, with 60 being differentially abundant in VBNC cells compared with log-phase cells, and 469 being differentially abundant in resuscitated cells compared with VBNC cells. Proteins involved in the arginine and proline metabolism pathway and degradation of aromatic compounds could be important for the VBNC cells. In the early resuscitation process, proteins associated with carbon metabolism, and degradation of naphthalene and aromatic compounds were significantly enriched, while proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation, bacterial chemotaxis, ABC transporters and quorum sensing were significantly enriched at the late resuscitation stages. This is the first study reporting thorough protein profile analyses of VBNC and resuscitating cells of a plant-pathogenic bacterium. Biological significance: The VBNC state is a dormant-like condition that was reported to occur in many bacterial species, upon facing a variety of environmental stresses. Acidovorax citrulli is a seed borne pathogenic bacterium that threatens cucurbit production worldwide. Moreover, A. citrulli can enter into the VBNC state after treatment of copper sulfate, thus increasing its survival and dissemination probabilities. This study enriches our understanding of the mechanisms of entrance into and resuscitation from the VBNC state of this important plant-pathogenic bacterium. This knowledge could be exploited in the future to develop novel approaches to interfere with these processes, thus contributing to a more efficient management of this pathogen. In a broader perspective, the knowledge emerging from this study has implications to the general understanding of the VBNC state in bacteria. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
Yang, R. ; Garcia, D. S. ; Montaño, F. P. ; Da Silva, G. M. ; Zhao, M. ; Guerrero, I. J. ; Rosenberg, T. ; Chen, G. ; Plaschkes, I. ; Morin, S. ; et al. Complete assembly of the genome of an Acidovorax citrulli strain reveals a naturally occurring plasmid in this species. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB), a serious threat to cucurbit crop production worldwide. Based on genetic and phenotypic properties, A. citrulli strains are divided into two major groups: group I strains have been generally isolated from melon and other non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In a previous study, we reported the genome of the group I model strain, M6. At that time, the M6 genome was sequenced by MiSeq Illumina technology, with reads assembled into 139 contigs. Here, we report the assembly of the M6 genome following sequencing with PacBio technology. This approach not only allowed full assembly of the M6 genome, but it also revealed the occurrence of a ∼53 kb plasmid. The M6 plasmid, named pACM6, was further confirmed by plasmid extraction, Southern-blot analysis of restricted fragments and obtention of M6-derivative cured strains. pACM6 occurs at low copy numbers (average of ∼4.1 ± 1.3 chromosome equivalents) in A. citrulli M6 and contains 63 open reading frames (ORFs), most of which (55.6%) encoding hypothetical proteins. The plasmid contains several genes encoding type IV secretion components, and typical plasmid-borne genes involved in plasmid maintenance, replication and transfer. The plasmid also carries an operon encoding homologs of a Fic-VbhA toxin-antitoxin (TA) module. Transcriptome data from A. citrulli M6 revealed that, under the tested conditions, the genes encoding the components of this TA system are among the highest expressed genes in pACM6. Whether this TA module plays a role in pACM6 maintenance is still to be determined. Leaf infiltration and seed transmission assays revealed that, under tested conditions, the loss of pACM6 did not affect the virulence of A. citrulli M6. We also show that pACM6 or similar plasmids are present in several group I strains, but absent in all tested group II strains of A. citrulli. Copyright © 2019 Yang, Santos Garcia, Pérez Montaño, da Silva, Zhao, Jiménez Guerrero, Rosenberg, Chen, Plaschkes, Morin, Walcott and Burdman.
Traore, S. M. ; Eckshtain-Levi, N. ; Miao, J. ; Castro Sparks, A. ; Wang, Z. ; Wang, K. ; Li, Q. ; Burdman, S. ; Walcott, R. ; Welbaum, G. E. ; et al. Nicotiana species as surrogate host for studying the pathogenicity of Acidovorax citrulli, the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbits. Molecular Plant Pathology 2019, 20, 800-814. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) caused by Acidovorax citrulli is one of the most important bacterial diseases of cucurbits worldwide. However, the mechanisms associated with A. citrulli pathogenicity and genetics of host resistance have not been extensively investigated. We idenitfied Nicotiana benthamiana and Nicotiana tabacum as surrogate hosts for studying A. citrulli pathogenicity and non-host resistance triggered by type III secreted (T3S) effectors. Two A. citrulli strains, M6 and AAC00-1, that represent the two major groups amongst A. citrulli populations, induced disease symptoms on N. benthamiana, but triggered a hypersensitive response (HR) on N. tabacum plants. Transient expression of 19 T3S effectors from A. citrulli in N. benthamiana leaves revealed that three effectors, Aave_1548, Aave_2708, and Aave_2166, trigger water-soaking-like cell death in N. benthamiana. Aave_1548 knockout mutants of M6 and AAC00-1 displayed reduced virulence on N. benthamiana and melon (Cucumis melo L.). Transient expression of Aave_1548 and Aave_2166 effectors triggered a non-host HR in N. tabacum, which was dependent on the functionality of the immune signalling component, NtSGT1. Hence, employing Nicotiana species as surrogate hosts for studying A. citrulli pathogenicity may help characterize the function of A. citrulli T3S effectors and facilitate the development of new strategies for BFB management. © 2019 The Authors. Molecular Plant Pathology Published by British Society for Plant Pathology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Cárdenas, P. D. ; Sonawane, P. D. ; Heinig, U. ; Jozwiak, A. ; Panda, S. ; Abebie, B. ; Kazachkova, Y. ; Pliner, M. ; Unger, T. ; Wolf, D. ; et al. Pathways to defense metabolites and evading fruit bitterness in genus Solanum evolved through 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases. Nature Communications 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The genus Solanum comprises three food crops (potato, tomato, and eggplant), which are consumed on daily basis worldwide and also producers of notorious anti-nutritional steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs). Hydroxylated SGAs (i.e. leptinines) serve as precursors for leptines that act as defenses against Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say), an important pest of potato worldwide. However, SGA hydroxylating enzymes remain unknown. Here, we discover that 2-OXOGLUTARATE-DEPENDENT-DIOXYGENASE (2-ODD) enzymes catalyze SGA-hydroxylation across various Solanum species. In contrast to cultivated potato, Solanum chacoense, a widespread wild potato species, has evolved a 2-ODD enzyme leading to the formation of leptinines. Furthermore, we find a related 2-ODD in tomato that catalyzes the hydroxylation of the bitter α-tomatine to hydroxytomatine, the first committed step in the chemical shift towards downstream ripening-associated non-bitter SGAs (e.g. esculeoside A). This 2-ODD enzyme prevents bitterness in ripe tomato fruit consumed today which otherwise would remain unpleasant in taste and more toxic. © 2019, The Author(s).
Jiménez-Guerrero, I. ; Pérez-Montaño, F. ; Da Silva, G. M. ; Wagner, N. ; Shkedy, D. ; Zhao, M. ; Pizarro, L. ; Bar, M. ; Walcott, R. ; Sessa, G. ; et al. Show me your secret(ed) weapons: a multifaceted approach reveals a wide arsenal of type III-secreted effectors in the cucurbit pathogenic bacterium Acidovorax citrulli and novel effectors in the Acidovorax genus. Molecular Plant Pathology 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The cucurbit pathogenic bacterium Acidovorax citrulli requires a functional type III secretion system (T3SS) for pathogenicity. In this bacterium, as with Xanthomonas and Ralstonia spp., an AraC-type transcriptional regulator, HrpX, regulates expression of genes encoding T3SS components and type III-secreted effectors (T3Es). The annotation of a sequenced A. citrulli strain revealed 11 T3E genes. Assuming that this could be an underestimation, we aimed to uncover the T3E arsenal of the A. citrulli model strain, M6. Thorough sequence analysis revealed 51 M6 genes whose products are similar to known T3Es. Furthermore, we combined machine learning and transcriptomics to identify novel T3Es. The machine-learning approach ranked all A. citrulli M6 genes according to their propensity to encode T3Es. RNA-Seq revealed differential gene expression between wild-type M6 and a mutant defective in HrpX: 159 and 28 genes showed significantly reduced and increased expression in the mutant relative to wild-type M6, respectively. Data combined from these approaches led to the identification of seven novel T3E candidates that were further validated using a T3SS-dependent translocation assay. These T3E genes encode hypothetical proteins that seem to be restricted to plant pathogenic Acidovorax species. Transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana revealed that two of these T3Es localize to the cell nucleus and one interacts with the endoplasmic reticulum. This study places A. citrulli among the ‘richest’ bacterial pathogens in terms of T3E cargo. It also revealed novel T3Es that appear to be involved in the pathoadaptive evolution of plant pathogenic Acidovorax species. © 2019 The Authors. Molecular Plant Pathology published by British Society for Plant Pathology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Kan, Y. ; Jiang, N. ; Xu, X. ; Lyu, Q. ; Gopalakrishnan, V. ; Walcott, R. ; Burdman, S. ; Li, J. ; Luo, L. Induction and Resuscitation of the Viable but Non-culturable (VBNC) State in Acidovorax citrulli, the Causal Agent of Bacterial Fruit Blotch of Cucurbitaceous Crops. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10, 1081. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Acidovorax citrulli is a gram-negative bacterium that infects a wide range of cucurbits causing bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) disease. Copper-based compounds are the most widely-used chemicals for managing BFB and other bacterial diseases in the field. Many bacteria can enter a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state in response to stress, including exposure to copper, and recover the culturability when favorable conditions return. The present study demonstrates that A. citrulli strain AAC00-1 is able to enter into the VBNC state by treatment with different concentrations of copper sulfate. It took 3 h, 5 d and 15 d for all viable cells to lose culturability upon exposure to copper sulfate concentrations of 50 μM, 10 μM and 5 μM, respectively. The VBNC A. citrulli cells regained culturability when the Cu2+ ions were removed by chelation with EDTA or by transfer of cells to LB broth, a cell-free supernatant from a suspension of AAC00-1, oligotrophic media amended with casein hydrolysate or watermelon seedling juice. We also found that the VBNC cells induced by Cu2+ were unable to colonize or infect watermelon seedlings directly, but that resuscitated cells recovered full virulence equivalent to untreated bacterial cells in the log phase. To the best of our knowledge this is the first report on the VBNC state in A. citrulli and the factors that facilitate resuscitation and restoration of pathogenicity.
Topman, S. ; Tamir-Ariel, D. ; Bochnic-Tamir, H. ; Stern Bauer, T. ; Shafir, S. ; Burdman, S. ; Hayouka, Z. Random peptide mixtures as new crop protection agents. Microb Biotechnol 2018, 11, 1027-1036.Abstract
Many types of crops are severely affected by at least one important bacterial disease. Chemical control of bacterial plant diseases in the field vastly relies on copper-based bactericides, yet with limited efficacy. In this study, we explored the potential of two random peptide mixture (RPM) models as novel crop protection agents. These unique peptide mixtures consist of random combination of l-phenylalanine and l- or d-lysine (FK-20 and FdK-20, respectively) along the 20 mer chain length of the peptides. Both RPMs displayed powerful bacteriostatic and bactericidal activities towards strains belonging to several plant pathogenic bacterial genera, for example, Xanthomonas, Clavibacter and Pseudomonas. In planta studies in the glasshouse revealed that RPMs significantly reduced disease severity of tomato and kohlrabi plants infected with Xanthomonas perforans and Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris respectively. Moreover, RPM effects on reduction in disease severity were similar to those exerted by the commercial copper-based bactericide Kocide 2000 that was applied at a 12-fold higher concentration of the active compound relative to the RPM treatments. Importantly, the two tested RPM compounds had no toxic effect on survival of bees and Caco-2 mammalian cells. This study demonstrates the potential of these innovative RPMs to serve as crop protection agents against crop diseases caused by phytopathogenic bacteria.
Rosenberg, T. ; Salam, B. B. ; Burdman, S. Association Between Loss of Type IV Pilus Synthesis Ability and Phenotypic Variation in the Cucurbit Pathogenic Bacterium Acidovorax citrulli. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 2018, 31, 548-559.Abstract
Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbits. We have shown that functional type IV pili (T4P) are required for full virulence of this bacterium. To identify A. citrulli genes required for T4P activity, we screened a library of about 10,000 transposon mutants of A. citrulli M6 for altered T4P-mediated twitching motility. This screen led to the identification of 50 mutants impaired in twitching ability due to transposon insertions into 20 different genes. Representative mutants with disruptions in these genes were further characterized. All mutants were compromised in their virulence in seed transmission and stem inoculation assays and had reduced biofilm formation ability relative to wild-type M6. When grown on nutrient agar, most mutants produced colonies with a translucent and fuzzy appearance, in contrast to the opaque and smooth appearance of wild-type colonies. The colony morphology of these mutants was identical to that of previously reported phenotypic variants of strain M6. The exceptions were M6 mutants disrupted in genes tonB, pilT, pilW, and pilX that exhibited typical wild-type colony morphology, although lacking twitching haloes surrounding the colony. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that most mutants lacked the ability to produce T4P. The exceptions were mutants with disruptions in tonB, pilT, pilW, and pilX genes that were shown to produce these appendages. These findings support the idea that colony phenotypic variation in A. citrulli is determined by the lack of ability to synthesize T4P but not by lack of T4P functionality.
Makarovsky, D. ; Fadeev, L. ; Salam, B. B. ; Zelinger, E. ; Matan, O. ; Inbar, J. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Gozin, M. ; Burdman, S. Silver Nanoparticles Complexed with Bovine Submaxillary Mucin Possess Strong Antibacterial Activity and Protect against Seedling Infection. Appl Environ Microbiol 2018, 84.Abstract
A simple method for the synthesis of nanoparticles (NPs) of silver (Ag) in a matrix of bovine submaxillary mucin (BSM) was reported previously by some of the authors of this study. Based on mucin characteristics such as long-lasting stability, water solubility, and surfactant and adhesive characteristics, we hypothesized that these compounds, named BSM-Ag NPs, may possess favorable properties as potent antimicrobial agents. The goal of this study was to assess whether BSM-Ag NPs possess antibacterial activity, focusing on important plant-pathogenic bacterial strains representing both Gram-negative ( and ) and Gram-positive () genera. Growth inhibition and bactericidal assays, as well as electron microscopic observations, demonstrate that BSM-Ag NPs, at relatively low concentrations of silver, exert strong antimicrobial effects. Moreover, we show that treatment of melon seeds with BSM-Ag NPs effectively prevents seed-to-seedling transmission of , one of the most threatening pathogens of cucurbit production worldwide. Overall, our findings demonstrate strong antimicrobial activity of BSM-Ag NPs and their potential application for reducing the spread and establishment of devastating bacterial plant diseases in agriculture. Bacterial plant diseases challenge agricultural production, and the means available to manage them are limited. Importantly, many plant-pathogenic bacteria have the ability to colonize seeds, and seed-to-seedling transmission is a critical route by which bacterial plant diseases spread to new regions and countries. The significance of our study resides in the following aspects: (i) the simplicity of the method of BSM-Ag NP synthesis, (ii) the advantageous chemical properties of BSM-Ag NPs, (iii) the strong antibacterial activity of BSM-Ag NPs at relatively low concentrations of silver, and (iv) the fact that, in contrast to most studies on the effects of metal NPs on plant pathogens, the proof of concept for the novel compound is supported by assays. Application of this technology is not limited to agriculture; BSM-Ag NPs potentially could be exploited as a potent antimicrobial agent in a wide range of industrial areas, including medicine, veterinary medicine, cosmetics, textiles, and household products.
Zimerman-Lax, N. ; Tamir-Ariel, D. ; Shenker, M. ; Burdman, S. Decreased potassium fertilization is associated with increased pathogen growth and disease severity caused by Acidovorax citrulli in melon foliage. Journal of General Plant Pathology 2018, 84, 27 - 34. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The gram-negative bacterium Acidovorax citrulli causes bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) disease of cucurbits, which represents a serious threat to melon and watermelon production worldwide. To date, there are no efficient means to manage the disease, and reliable resistance sources for cucurbit germplasm are lacking. Mineral nutrition markedly affects plant diseases. Recently, we reported that disease severity on melon foliage and A. citrulli growth in the leaf tissue were significantly influenced by the form of nitrogen supply. In the present study, we investigated the influence of potassium nutrition on BFB severity and A. citrulli establishment in the foliage of melon plants. Fertilization with relatively low concentrations of potassium increased these variables compared with higher potassium concentrations. Since establishment of A. citrulli during the growing season is assumed to increase the incidence of fruit infection, the fact that mineral nutrition influences BFB incidence in the plant foliage is of particular importance.
Brenholtz, G. R. ; Tamir-Ariel, D. ; Okon, Y. ; Burdman, S. Carotenoid production and phenotypic variation in Azospirillum brasilense. Research in Microbiology 2017, 168, 493 - 501. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We assessed the occurrence of phenotypic variation in Azospirillum brasilense strains Sp7, Cd, Sp245, Az39 and phv2 during growth in rich media, screening for variants altered in colony pigmentation or extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) production. Previous studies showed that EPS-overproducing variants of Sp7 appear frequently following starvation or growth in minimal medium. In contrast, no such variants were detected during growth in rich media in the tested strains except for few variants of phv2. Regarding alteration in colony pigmentation (from pink to white in strain Cd and from white to pink in the others), strain Sp7 showed a relatively high frequency of variation (0.009–0.026%). Strain Cd showed a lower frequency of alteration in pigmentation (0–0.008%), and this type of variation was not detected in the other strains. In A. brasilense, carotenoid synthesis is controlled by two RpoE sigma factors and their cognate ChrR anti-sigma factors, the latter acting as negative regulators of carotenoid synthesis. Here, all tested (n = 28) pink variants of Sp7 carried mutations in one of the anti-sigma factor genes, chrR1. Our findings indicate that, in A. brasilense, phenotypic variation is strain- and environment-dependent and support the central role of ChrR1 in regulation of carotenoid production.
Shavit, R. ; Lebendiker, M. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Burdman, S. ; Helman, Y. The vapB–vapC Operon of Acidovorax citrulli Functions as a Bona-fide Toxin–Antitoxin Module. Frontiers in Microbiology 2016, 6 1499. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Toxin–antitoxin systems are commonly found on plasmids and chromosomes of bacteria and archaea. These systems appear as biscystronic genes encoding a stable toxin and a labile antitoxin, which protects the cells from the toxin’s activity. Under specific, mostly stressful conditions, the unstable antitoxin is degraded, the toxin becomes active and growth is arrested. Using genome analysis we identified a putative toxin–antitoxin encoding system in the genome of the plant pathogen Acidovorax citrulli. The system is homologous to vapB–vapC systems from other bacterial species. PCR and phylogenetic analyses suggested that this locus is unique to group II strains of A. citrulli. Using biochemical and molecular analyses we show that A. citrulli VapBC module is a bona-fide toxin–antitoxin module in which VapC is a toxin with ribonuclease activity that can be counteracted by its cognate VapB antitoxin. We further show that transcription of the A. citrulli vapBC locus is induced by amino acid starvation, chloramphenicol and during plant infection. Due to the possible role of TA systems in both virulence and dormancy of human pathogenic bacteria, studies of these systems are gaining a lot of attention. Conversely, studies characterizing toxin–antitoxin systems in plant pathogenic bacteria are lacking. The study presented here validates the activity of VapB and VapC proteins in A. citrulli and suggests their involvement in stress response and host–pathogen interactions.
Cárdenas, P. D. ; Sonawane, P. D. ; Pollier, J. ; Vanden Bossche, R. ; Dewangan, V. ; Weithorn, E. ; Tal, L. ; Meir, S. ; Rogachev, I. ; Malitsky, S. ; et al. GAME9 regulates the biosynthesis of steroidal alkaloids and upstream isoprenoids in the plant mevalonate pathway. 2016, 7 10654. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs) are cholesterol-derived molecules produced by solanaceous species. They contribute to pathogen defence but are toxic to humans and considered as anti-nutritional compounds. Here we show that GLYCOALKALOID METABOLISM 9 (GAME9), an APETALA2/Ethylene Response Factor, related to regulators of alkaloid production in tobacco and Catharanthus roseus, controls SGA biosynthesis. GAME9 knockdown and overexpression in tomato and potato alters expression of SGAs and upstream mevalonate pathway genes including the cholesterol biosynthesis gene STEROL SIDE CHAIN REDUCTASE 2 (SSR2). Levels of SGAs, C24-alkylsterols and the upstream mevalonate and cholesterol pathways intermediates are modified in these plants. Δ(7)-STEROL-C5(6)-DESATURASE (C5-SD) in the hitherto unresolved cholesterol pathway is a direct target of GAME9. Transactivation and promoter-binding assays show that GAME9 exerts its activity either directly or cooperatively with the SlMYC2 transcription factor as in the case of the C5-SD gene promoter. Our findings provide insight into the regulation of SGA biosynthesis and means for manipulating these metabolites in crops.
Eckshtain-Levi, N. ; Shkedy, D. ; Gershovits, M. ; Da Silva, G. M. ; Tamir-Ariel, D. ; Walcott, R. ; Pupko, T. ; Burdman, S. Insights from the Genome Sequence of Acidovorax citrulli M6, a Group I Strain of the Causal Agent of Bacterial Fruit Blotch of Cucurbits. Frontiers in Microbiology 2016, 7 430. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Acidovorax citrulli is a seedborne bacterium that causes bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbit plants including watermelon and melon. A. citrulli strains can be divided into two major groups based on DNA fingerprint analyses and biochemical properties. Group I strains have been generally isolated from non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In the present study, we report the genome sequence of M6, a group I model A. citrulli strain, isolated from melon. We used comparative genome analysis to investigate differences between the genome of strain M6 and the genome of the group II model strain AAC00-1. The draft genome sequence of A. citrulli M6 harbors 139 contigs, with an overall approximate size of 4.85 Mb. The genome of M6 is ∼500 Kb shorter than that of strain AAC00-1. Comparative analysis revealed that this size difference is mainly explained by eight fragments, ranging from ∼35–120 Kb and distributed throughout the AAC00-1 genome, which are absent in the M6 genome. In agreement with this finding, while AAC00-1 was found to possess 532 open reading frames (ORFs) that are absent in strain M6, only 123 ORFs in M6 were absent in AAC00-1. Most of these M6 ORFs are hypothetical proteins and most of them were also detected in two group I strains that were recently sequenced, tw6 and pslb65. Further analyses by PCR assays and coverage analyses with other A. citrulli strains support the notion that some of these fragments or significant portions of them are discriminative between groups I and II strains of A. citrulli. Moreover, GC content, effective number of codon values and cluster of orthologs’ analyses indicate that these fragments were introduced into group II strains by horizontal gene transfer events. Our study reports the genome sequence of a model group I strain of A. citrulli, one of the most important pathogens of cucurbits. It also provides the first comprehensive comparison at the genomic level between the two major groups of strains of this pathogen.