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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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2020
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.
2019
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.
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. 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 non-culturable (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 and 15 days for all viable cells to lose culturability upon exposure to copper sulfate concentrations of 50, 10, 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 the 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. Copyright © 2019 Kan, Jiang, Xu, Lyu, Gopalakrishnan, Walcott, Burdman, Li and Luo. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
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.
2018
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.
2017
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.
2016
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.
Zimerman-Lax, N. ; Shenker, M. ; Tamir-Ariel, D. ; Perl-Treves, R. ; Burdman, S. Effects of nitrogen nutrition on disease development caused by Acidovorax citrulli on melon foliage. 2016, 145, 125 - 137. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) of cucurbits, caused by the seed-borne bacterium Acidovorax citrulli, is a destructive disease that threatens the melon and watermelon industries worldwide. The available means to manage the disease are very limited and there are no reliable sources of BFB resistance. Mineral nutrition has marked effects on plant diseases. To the best of our knowledge, no studies reporting effects of mineral nutrition on BFB severity have been reported to date. In the present study we assessed the influence of nitrogen nutrition on BFB severity and A. citrulli establishment in the foliage of melon plants under greenhouse conditions. Our results show that nitrogen fertilization, based on nitrate only, led to reduced disease severity and bacterial numbers in melon leaves, as compared with two combinations of nitrate and ammonium. No consistent effect of nitrogen nutrition on expression of several plant defense-associated transcripts was found, except for hydroperoxide lyase (HPL), which upon inoculation was repressed to a greater extent under the “nitrate-only” nitrogen regime compared with combined nitrate and ammonium. Reducing BFB severity and A. citrulli establishment in the plant foliage are of particular importance since establishment of the pathogen during the growing season is assumed to increase the incidence of fruit infection, leading to serious yield losses. Further research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms by which nitrogen nutrition influences BFB development, and to assess the effects of nitrogen as well as other minerals on the disease under field conditions.
Joshi, J. R. ; Burdman, S. ; Lipsky, A. ; Yariv, S. ; Yedidia, I. Plant phenolic acids affect the virulence of Pectobacterium aroidearum and P. carotovorum ssp. brasiliense via quorum sensing regulation. Molecular Plant PathologyMolecular Plant PathologyMolecular Plant Pathology 2016, 17, 487 - 500. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Summary Several studies have reported effects of the plant phenolic acids cinnamic acid (CA) and salicylic acid (SA) on the virulence of soft rot enterobacteria. However, the mechanisms involved in these processes are not yet fully understood. Here, we investigated whether CA and SA interfere with the quorum sensing (QS) system of two Pectobacterium species, P.?aroidearum and P.?carotovorum ssp. brasiliense, which are known to produce N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) QS signals. Our results clearly indicate that both phenolic compounds affect the QS machinery of the two species, consequently altering the expression of bacterial virulence factors. Although, in control treatments, the expression of QS-related genes increased over time, the exposure of bacteria to non-lethal concentrations of CA or SA inhibited the expression of QS genes, including expI, expR, PC1_1442 (luxR transcriptional regulator) and luxS (a component of the AI-2 system). Other virulence genes known to be regulated by the QS system, such as pecS, pel, peh and yheO, were also down-regulated relative to the control. In agreement with the low levels of expression of expI and expR, CA and SA also reduced the level of the AHL signal. The effects of CA and SA on AHL signalling were confirmed in compensation assays, in which exogenous application of N-(?-ketocaproyl)-l-homoserine lactone (eAHL) led to the recovery of the reduction in virulence caused by the two phenolic acids. Collectively, the results of gene expression studies, bioluminescence assays, virulence assays and compensation assays with eAHL clearly support a mechanism by which CA and SA interfere with Pectobacterium virulence via the QS machinery.
Joshi, J. R. ; Khazanov, N. ; Senderowitz, H. ; Burdman, S. ; Lipsky, A. ; Yedidia, I. Plant phenolic volatiles inhibit quorum sensing in pectobacteria and reduce their virulence by potential binding to ExpI and ExpR proteins. 2016, 6 38126. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Quorum sensing (QS) is a population density-dependent regulatory system in bacteria that couples gene expression to cell density through accumulation of diffusible signaling molecules. Pectobacteria are causal agents of soft rot disease in a range of economically important crops. They rely on QS to coordinate their main virulence factor, production of plant cell wall degrading enzymes (PCWDEs). Plants have evolved an array of antimicrobial compounds to anticipate and cope with pathogens, of which essential oils (EOs) are widely recognized. Here, volatile EOs, carvacrol and eugenol, were shown to specifically interfere with QS, the master regulator of virulence in pectobacteria, resulting in strong inhibition of QS genes, biofilm formation and PCWDEs, thereby leading to impaired infection. Accumulation of the signal molecule N-acylhomoserine lactone declined upon treatment with EOs, suggesting direct interaction of EOs with either homoserine lactone synthase (ExpI) or with the regulatory protein (ExpR). Homology models of both proteins were constructed and docking simulations were performed to test the above hypotheses. The resulting binding modes and docking scores of carvacrol and eugenol support potential binding to ExpI/ExpR, with stronger interactions than previously known inhibitors of both proteins. The results demonstrate the potential involvement of phytochemicals in the control of Pectobacterium.