Involvement of the exopolysaccharide alginate in the virulence and epiphytic fitness of Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae


Carol L. Bender. E-mail; Tel. (+1) 405 744 9945; Fax (+1) 405 744 7373.


Alginate, a co-polymer of O-acetylated β-1,4-linked d-mannuronic acid and l-guluronic acid, has been reported to function in the virulence of Pseudomonas syringae, although genetic studies to test this hypothesis have not been undertaken previously. In the present study, we used a genetic approach to evaluate the role of alginate in the pathogenicity of P. syringae pv. syringae 3525, which causes bacterial brown spot on beans. Alginate biosynthesis in strain 3525 was disrupted by recombining Tn5 into algL, which encodes alginate lyase, resulting in 3525.L. Alginate production in 3525.L was restored by the introduction of pSK2 or pAD4033, which contain the alginate biosynthetic gene cluster from P. syringae pv. syringae FF5 or the algA gene from P. aeruginosa respectively. The role of alginate in the epiphytic fitness of strain 3525 was assessed by monitoring the populations of 3525 and 3525.L on tomato, which is not a host for this pathogen. The mutant 3525.L was significantly impaired in its ability to colonize tomato leaves compared with 3525, indicating that alginate functions in the survival of strain 3525 on leaf surfaces. The contribution of alginate to the virulence of strain 3525 was evaluated by comparing the population dynamics and symptom development of 3525 and 3525.L in bean leaves. Although 3525.L retained the ability to form lesions on bean leaves, symptoms were less severe, and the population was significantly reduced in comparison with 3525. These results indicate that alginate contributes to the virulence of P. syringae pv. syringae 3525, perhaps by facilitating colonization or dissemination of the bacterium in planta.