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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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2019
Cohen, Y. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Johnke, J. ; Abed-Rabbo, A. ; Kushmaro, A. ; Chatzinotas, A. ; Jurkevitch, E. Bacteria and microeukaryotes are differentially segregated in sympatric wastewater microhabitats. Environmental Microbiology 2019, 21, 1757-1770. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Wastewater purification is mostly performed in activated sludge reactors by bacterial and microeukaryotic communities, populating organic flocs and a watery liquor. While there are numerous molecular community studies of the bacterial fraction, those on microeukaryotes are rare. We performed a year-long parallel 16S rRNA gene and 18S rRNA-gene based analysis of the bacterial and of the microeukaryote communities, respectively, of physically separated flocs and particle-free liquor samples from three WWTPs. This uncovered a hitherto unknown large diversity of microeukaryotes largely composed of potential phagotrophs preferentially feeding on either bacteria or other microeukaryotes. We further explored whether colonization of the microhabitats was selective, showing that for both microbial communities, different but often closely taxonomically and functionally related populations exhibiting different dynamic patterns populated the microhabitats. An analysis of their between plants-shared core populations showed the microeukaryotes to be dispersal limited in comparison to bacteria. Finally, a detailed analysis of a weather-caused operational disruption in one of the plants suggested that the absence of populations common to the floc and liquor habitat may negatively affect resilience and stability. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Sathyamoorthy, R. ; Maoz, A. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Im, H. ; Huppert, A. ; Kadouri, D. ; Jurkevitch, E. Bacterial predation under changing viscosities. Environmental Microbiology 2019, 21, 2997-3010. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are largely distributed in soils and in water bodies obligate predators of gram-negative bacteria that can affect bacterial communities. Potential applications of BALOs include biomass reduction, their use against pathogenic bacteria in agriculture, and in medicine as an alternative against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Such different environments and uses mean that BALOs should be active under a range of viscosities. In this study, the predatory behaviour of two strains of the periplasmic predator B. bacteriovorus and of the epibiotic predator Micavibrio aeruginosavorus was examined in viscous polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) solutions at 28 and at 37°C, using fluorescent markers and plate counts to track predator growth and prey decay. We found that at high viscosities, although swimming speed was largely decreased, the three predators reduced prey to levels similar to those of non-viscous suspensions, albeit with short delays. Prey motility and clumping did not affect the outcome. Strikingly, under low initial predator concentrations, predation dynamics were faster with increasing viscosity, an effect that dissipated with increasing predator concentrations. Changes in swimming patterns and in futile predator–predator encounters with viscosity, as revealed by path analysis under changing viscosities, along with possible PVP-mediated crowding effects, may explain the observed phenomena. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Yuval, B. ; Lahuatte, P. ; Jose, P. A. ; Causton, C. E. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Kouloussis, N. ; Ben-Yosef, M. Behavioral responses of the invasive fly Philornis downsi to stimuli from bacteria and yeast in the laboratory and the field in the Galapagos Islands. Insects 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Philornis downsi Dodge and Aitken (Diptera: Muscidae) is an avian parasitic fly that has invaded the Galapagos archipelago and exerts an onerous burden on populations of endemic land birds. As part of an ongoing effort to develop tools for the integrated management of this fly, our objective was to determine its long-and short-range responses to bacterial and fungal cues associated with adult P. downsi. We hypothesized that the bacterial and fungal communities would elicit attraction at distance through volatiles, and appetitive responses upon contact. Accordingly, we amplified bacteria from guts of adult field-caught flies and from bird feces, and yeasts from fermenting papaya juice (a known attractant of P. downsi), on selective growth media, and assayed the response of flies to these microbes or their exudates. In the field, we baited traps with bacteria or yeast and monitored adult fly attraction. In the laboratory, we used the proboscis extension response (PER) to determine the sensitivity of males and females to tarsal contact with bacteria or yeast. Long range trapping efforts yielded two female flies over 112 trap-nights (attracted by bacteria from bird feces and from the gut of adult flies). In the laboratory, tarsal contact with stimuli from gut bacteria elicited significantly more responses than did yeast stimuli. We discuss the significance of these findings in context with other studies in the field and identify targets for future work. © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Akami, M. ; Andongma, A. A. ; Zhengzhong, C. ; Nan, J. ; Khaeso, K. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Niu, C. - Y. ; Yuval, B. Intestinal bacteria modulate the foraging behavior of the oriental fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae). PLoS ONE 2019, 14. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The gut microbiome of insects directly or indirectly affects the metabolism, immune status, sensory perception and feeding behavior of its host. Here, we examine the hypothesis that in the oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis, Diptera: Tephritidae), the presence or absence of gut symbionts affects foraging behavior and nutrient ingestion. We offered protein-starved flies, symbiotic or aposymbiotic, a choice between diets containing all amino acids or only the non-essential ones. The different diets were presented in a foraging arena as drops that varied in their size and density, creating an imbalanced foraging environment. Suppressing the microbiome resulted in significant changes of the foraging behavior of both male and female flies. Aposymbiotic flies responded faster to the diets offered in experimental arenas, spent more time feeding, ingested more drops of food, and were constrained to feed on time-consuming patches (containing small drops of food), when these offered the full complement of amino acids. We discuss these results in the context of previous studies on the effect of the gut microbiome on host behavior, and suggest that these be extended to the life history dimension. © 2019 Akami et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Pasternak, Z. ; Luchibia, A. O. ; Matan, O. ; Dawson, L. ; Gafny, R. ; Shpitzen, M. ; Avraham, S. ; Jurkevitch, E. Mitigating temporal mismatches in forensic soil microbial profiles. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences 2019, 51, 685-694. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Forensic implementation of soil bacterial DNA profiling is limited by the potential for temporal mismatch of DNA profiles, e.g. after storage or seasonal changes. We compared profiles of samples retrieved at one location over 14 years after air-drying, freeze-drying and –80 °C freezing storage. Sample mismatch in freeze-dried and air-dried samples was significant after two years and continued to increase yearly, whereas profiles after –80 °C freezing remained unchanged for many years. In an attempt to mitigate inter-seasonal temporal mismatches, e.g. when months pass between crime and seizure of evidence, soils sampled in winter and summer were exposed to artificial ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ conditions, respectively, and their DNA profiles were compared. Differences were small between soil types, larger between seasons and largest between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ seasons. Understanding sources of temporal variations is critical for storage of forensics samples and for developing mitigation procedures that could help overcome these time-induced limitations. © 2018, © 2018 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences.
Jose, P. A. ; Ben-Yosef, M. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Yuval, B. Symbiotic bacteria affect oviposition behavior in the olive fruit fly Bactrocera oleae. Journal of Insect Physiology 2019, 117. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Microbial associations are widespread across the insects. In the olive fruit fly Bactrocera oleae (Diptera: Tephritidae), vertically transmitted gut symbionts contribute to larval development inside the olive host, and to adult nutrition. Nevertheless, their effect on behavioural decisions of adults is unknown. In this study, we show that symbiotic bacteria affect oviposition behaviour in B. oleae. We studied the effect of different fruits as hosts and different gut-bacteria as gut-symbionts on oviposition attempts and fly development in B. oleae. Untreated flies that had native gut-symbionts attempted oviposition significantly more times than axenic flies as well as flies treated with medfly-associated Pantoea or Klebsiella bacteria. Axenic flies provided with a diet containing the homogenized gut of symbiotic flies recovered the same number of oviposition attempts as their symbiotic counterparts. As for as the different hosts, green olives (unripe) and grapes were preferred while black olives (ripe) elicited the least number of oviposition attempts, with an interactive effect of host and bacterial treatments. It appears that both the host attributes and the native gut-symbionts drive oviposition preference towards green olives in B. oleae. Moreover, both bacterial treatments and hosts significantly affected the development of B. oleae larvae. Though grapes elicited as many oviposition attempts as green olives, they yielded no pupae. Taken together, our results suggest that the intimate association between B. oleae and their gut-microbes, extends beyond nutritional support to behaviour. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Amso, Z. ; Hayouka, Z. Antimicrobial random peptide cocktails: A new approach to fight pathogenic bacteria. Chemical Communications 2019, 55, 2007-2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria has become a serious threat to public health, and therefore there is an urgent need to develop new classes of antimicrobial agents. Nowadays, natural antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and their synthetic derivatives are considered as promising alternatives to traditional antibiotics. The broad molecular diversity of AMPs, in terms of sequences and structures, suggests that their activity does not depend on specific features of amino acid sequence or peptide conformation. We therefore selected two common properties of AMPs, (high percentage of hydrophobic and cationic amino acids), to develop a novel approach to synthesize random antimicrobial peptide mixtures (RPMs). Instead of incorporating a single amino acid at each coupling step, a mixture of hydrophobic and cationic amino acids in a defined proportion is coupled. This results in a mixture that contains up to 2 n sequences, where n is the number of the coupling step, of random peptides with a defined composition, stereochemistry, and controlled chain length. We have discovered that RPMs of hydrophobic and cationic α-amino acids, such as phenylalanine and lysine, display strong and broad antimicrobial activity towards Gram-negative, Gram-positive, clinically isolated antibiotic resistant "superbugs", and several plant pathogenic bacteria. This review summarizes our efforts to explore the mode of action of RPMs and their potential as bioactive agents for multiple applications, including the prevention of biofilm formation and degradation of mature biofilm (related to human health), reduction of disease severity in plant bacterial disease models (related to crop protection), and inhibition of bacterial growth in milk (related to food preservation). All our findings illustrate the effectiveness of RPMs and their great potential for various applications. © 2019 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Yehuda, A. ; Slamti, L. ; Malach, E. ; Lereclus, D. ; Hayouka, Z. Elucidating the hot spot residues of quorum sensing peptidic autoinducer papr by multiple amino acid replacements. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The quorum sensing (QS) system of Bacillus cereus, an opportunistic human pathogen, utilizes the autoinducing PapR peptide signal that mediates the activation of the pleiotropic virulence regulator PlcR. A set of synthetic 7-mer PapR-derived peptides (PapR7; ADLPFEF) have been shown to inhibit efficiently the PlcR regulon activity and the production of virulence factors, reflected by a loss in hemolytic activity without affecting bacterial growth. Interestingly, these first potent synthetic inhibitors involved D-amino acid or alanine replacements of three amino acids; proline, glutamic acid, and phenylalanine of the heptapeptide PapR. To better understand the role of these three positions in PlcR activity, we report herein the second generation design, synthesis, and characterization of PapR7-derived combinations, alternate double and triple alanine and D-amino acids replacement at these positions. Our findings generate a new set of non-native PapR7-derived peptides that inhibit the PlcR regulon activity and the production of virulence factors. Using the amino acids substitution strategy, we revealed the role of proline and glutamic acid on PlcR regulon activation. Moreover, we demonstrated that the D-Glutamic acid substitution was crucial for the design of stronger PlcR antagonists. These peptides represent potent synthetic inhibitors of B. cereus QS and constitute new and readily accessible chemical tools for the study of the PlcR system. Our method might be applied to other quorum sensing systems to design new anti-virulence agents. © 2019 Yehuda, Slamti, Malach, Lereclus and Hayouka.
Ghate, V. ; Zelinger, E. ; Shoyhet, H. ; Hayouka, Z. Inactivation of Listeria monocytogenes on paperboard, a food packaging material, using 410 nm light emitting diodes. Food Control 2019, 96, 281-290. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Light emitting diodes of wavelength 410 nm were used to inactivate Listeria monocytogenes stains on paperboard, an increasingly popular food packaging material. The integrity of the cell membranes was examined using differential fluorescent staining. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to obtain a deeper understanding of L. monocytogenes stain formation on paperboard and the damage caused to the cells by the LEDs. While the planktonic L. monocytogenes population could be completely inactivated following a brief lag phase that lasted about 20 min, the illumination of the sessile population left some persisters despite immediate commencement of the inactivation. Planktonic populations of inocula sized 3, 5 and 7 log CFU/mL were reduced below the detection limit in 54, 80 and 84 min respectively, whereas it took 120 and 390 min to reach constancy in the sessile populations of inocula sized 5 and 7 log CFU/cm2. The number of membrane-damaged cells was seen to increase with the illumination time. SEM images provided evidence of the protection conferred by the stain on the underlying cells. This study demonstrates that blue LEDs have the potential to reduce the risk of L. monocytogenes contamination from paperboard cartons under refrigeration. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
Bauer, T. S. ; Menagen, B. ; Avnir, D. ; Hayouka, Z. Random peptide mixtures entrapped within a copper-cuprite matrix: new antimicrobial agent against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Scientific reports 2019, 9 11215. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The emergence of global antibiotic resistance necessitates the urgent need to develop new and effective antimicrobial agents. Combination of two antimicrobial agents can potentially improve antimicrobial potency and mitigate the development of resistance. Therefore, we have utilized metal molecular doping methodology whereby antimicrobial random peptides mixture (RPMs) are entrapped in a bactericidal copper metal matrix. The copper/RPM composite exhibits greater antimicrobial activity toward methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) than either copper or RPMs alone. Our findings indicate that this bactericidal antimicrobial biomaterial could be utilized to efficiently eradicate antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria for health, agricultural and environmental applications.
Kokou, F. ; Sasson, G. ; Friedman, J. ; Eyal, S. ; Ovadia, O. ; Harpaz, S. ; Cnaani, A. ; Mizrahi, I. Core gut microbial communities are maintained by beneficial interactions and strain variability in fish. Nature Microbiology 2019, 4 2456-2465. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The term core microbiome describes microbes that are consistently present in a particular habitat. If the conditions in that habitat are highly variable, core microbes may also be considered to be ecological generalists. However, little is known about whether metabolic competition and microbial interactions influence the ability of some microbes to persist in the core microbiome while others cannot. We investigated microbial communities at three sites in the guts of European seabass under four dietary conditions. We identified generalist core microbial populations in each gut site that are shared across fish, present under multiple diets and persistent over time. We found that core microbes tend to show synergistic growth in co-culture, and low levels of predicted and validated metabolic competition. Within core microbial species, we found high levels of intraspecific variability and strain-specific habitat specialization. Thus, both intraspecific variability and interspecific facilitation may contribute to the ecological stability of the animal core microbiome. © 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.
Kehe, J. ; Kulesa, A. ; Ortiz, A. ; Ackerman, C. M. ; Thakku, S. G. ; Sellers, D. ; Kuehn, S. ; Gore, J. ; Friedman, J. ; Blainey, P. C. Massively parallel screening of synthetic microbial communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2019, 116, 12804-12809. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Microbial communities have numerous potential applications in biotechnology, agriculture, and medicine. Nevertheless, the limited accuracy with which we can predict interspecies interactions and environmental dependencies hinders efforts to rationally engineer beneficial consortia. Empirical screening is a complementary approach wherein synthetic communities are combinatorially constructed and assayed in high throughput. However, assembling many combinations of microbes is logistically complex and difficult to achieve on a timescale commensurate with microbial growth. Here, we introduce the kChip, a droplets-based platform that performs rapid, massively parallel, bottom-up construction and screening of synthetic microbial communities. We first show that the kChip enables phenotypic characterization of microbes across environmental conditions. Next, in a screen of ∼100,000 multispecies communities comprising up to 19 soil isolates, we identified sets that promote the growth of the model plant symbiont Herbaspirillum frisingense in a manner robust to carbon source variation and the presence of additional species. Broadly, kChip screening can identify multispecies consortia possessing any optically assayable function, including facilitation of biocontrol agents, suppression of pathogens, degradation of recalcitrant substrates, and robustness of these functions to perturbation, with many applications across basic and applied microbial ecology. © 2019 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Abreu, C. I. ; Friedman, J. ; Andersen Woltz, V. L. ; Gore, J. Mortality causes universal changes in microbial community composition. Nature Communications 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
All organisms are sensitive to the abiotic environment, and a deteriorating environment can cause extinction. However, survival in a multispecies community depends upon interactions, and some species may even be favored by a harsh environment that impairs others, leading to potentially surprising community transitions as environments deteriorate. Here we combine theory and laboratory microcosms to predict how simple microbial communities will change under added mortality, controlled by varying dilution. We find that in a two-species coculture, increasing mortality favors the faster grower, confirming a theoretical prediction. Furthermore, if the slower grower dominates under low mortality, the outcome can reverse as mortality increases. We find that this tradeoff between growth and competitive ability is prevalent at low dilution, causing outcomes to shift dramatically as dilution increases, and that these two-species shifts propagate to simple multispecies communities. Our results argue that a bottom-up approach can provide insight into how communities change under stress. © 2019, The Author(s).
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
Pareek, M. ; Almog, Y. ; Bari, V. K. ; Hazkani-Covo, E. ; Onn, I. ; Covo, S. Alternative functional rad21 paralogs in Fusarium oxysporum. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10, JUN 2019 Article number 1370. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Cohesin, the sister chromatid cohesion complex, is an essential complex that ensures faithful sister chromatid segregation in eukaryotes. It also participates in DNA repair, transcription and maintenance of chromosome structure. Mitotic cohesin is composed of Smc1, Smc3, Scc3, and Rad21/Mcd1. The meiotic cohesin complex contains Rec8, a Rad21 paralog and not Rad21 itself. Very little is known about sister chromatid cohesion in fungal plant pathogens. Fusarium oxysporum is an important fungal plant pathogen without known sexual life cycle. Here, we describe that F. oxysporum encodes for three Rad21 paralogs; Rad21, Rec8, and the first alternative Rad21 paralog in the phylum of ascomycete. This last paralog is found only in several fungal plant pathogens from the Fusarium family and thus termed rad21nc (non-conserved). Conserved rad21 (rad21c), rad21nc, and rec8 genes are expressed in F. oxysporum although the expression of rad21c is much higher than the other paralogs. F. oxysporum strains deleted for the rad21nc or rec8 genes were analyzed for their role in fungal life cycle. δrad21nc and δrec8 single mutants were proficient in sporulation, conidia germination, hyphal growth and pathogenicity under optimal growth conditions. Interestingly, δrad21nc and δrec8 single mutants germinate less effectively than wild type (WT) strains under DNA replication and mitosis stresses. We provide here the first genetic analysis of alternative rad21nc and rec8 paralogs in filamentous fungi. Our results suggest that rad21nc and rec8 may have a unique role in cell cycle related functions of F. oxysporum. Copyright © 2019 Pareek, Almog, Bari, Hazkani-Covo, Onn and Covo.
Milo-Cochavi, S. ; Adar, S. ; Covo, S. Developmentally regulated oscillations in the expression of uv repair genes in a soilborne plant pathogen dictate UV repair efficiency and survival. mBio 2019, 10, e02623-19. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The ability to withstand UV damage shapes the ecology of microbes. While mechanisms of UV tolerance were extensively investigated in microorganisms regularly exposed to the sun, far less is known about UV repair of soilborne microorganisms. Fusarium oxysporum is a soilborne fungal plant pathogen that is resistant to UV light. We hypothesized that its UV repair capacity is induced to deal with irregular sun exposure. Unlike the SOS paradigm, our analysis revealed only sporadic increases and even decreases in UV repair gene expression following UVC irradiation or exposure to visible light. Strikingly, a major factor determining the expression of UV repair genes was the developmental status of the fungus. At the early stages of germination, the expression of photolyase increased while the expression of UV endonuclease decreased, and then the trend was reversed. These gene expression oscillations were dependent on cell cycle progression. Consequently, the contribution of photoreactivation to UV repair and survival was stronger at the beginning of germination than later when a filament was established. F. oxysporum germinates following cues from the host. Early on in germination, it is most vulnerable to UV; when the filament is established, the pathogen is protected from the sun because it is already within the host tissue. IMPORTANCE Fusarium oxysporum infects plants through the roots and therefore is not exposed to the sun regularly. However, the ability to survive sun exposure expands the distribution of the population. UV from the sun is toxic and mutagenic, and to survive sun exposure, fungi encode several DNA repair mechanisms. We found that Fusarium oxysporum has a gene expression program that activates photolyase at the first hours of germination when the pathogen is not established in the plant tissue. Later on, the expression of photolyase decreases, and the expression of a light-independent UV repair mechanism increases. We suggest a novel point of view to a very fundamental question of how soilborne microorganisms defend themselves against sudden UV exposure. © 2019 Milo-Cochavi et al.