• Antimicrobial activity;
  • efflux pumps;
  • pectinolytic bacteria;
  • plant metabolites


Pectobacterium atrosepticum (Pba) is a plant pathogen that causes major crop losses. Dionaea muscipula extracts and their antibacterial constituent, plumbagin, inhibit Pba growth in vitro. However, this effect is reduced when the extracts are added to bacterial cultures present on potato tubers or suspended in potato tuber filtrate (PF). To explain this, we examined the response mechanism of Pba cells to Dionaea extract and plumbagin and compared it with the effect of a bactericidal peptide – CAMEL. The addition of the extract and plumbagin to a Pba1043 culture in stationary phase increased the extracellular pectate lyase (Pel) activity in the presence of PF. While the addition of the Dionaea extract and plumbagin caused a dramatic reduction in RNA and protein synthesis in Pba1043, it did not result in cellular damage. PF alone increased the expression of Pba genes encoding protein components of cellular efflux pump systems: ompX, acrA and emrA. Application of both PF and plumbagin resulted in a synergistic stimulation of acrA gene expression. Plumbagin added to potato tubers inoculated with a field isolate Pba5A/1/2005 increased extracellular Pel activity and reduced tissue maceration but did not affect bacterial counts per gram of tissue. These results show that plumbagin in the presence of compounds from potato tuber stimulates Pel production/secretion in Pba cells and increases the expression of the acrA gene. This may be the molecular basis for the less pronounced effects of Dionaea extract on Pba in planta relative to those observed in vitro.