Phytotoxins produced by plant pathogenic Streptomyces species



Streptomyces is a large genus consisting of soil-dwelling, filamentous bacteria that are best known for their capability of producing a vast array of medically and agriculturally useful secondary metabolites. In addition, a small number of Streptomyces spp. are capable of colonizing and infecting the underground portions of living plants and causing economically important crop diseases such as potato common scab (CS). Research into the mechanisms of Streptomyces plant pathogenicity has led to the identification and characterization of several phytotoxic secondary metabolites that are known or suspected of contributing to diseases in various plants. The best characterized are the thaxtomin phytotoxins, which play a critical role in the development of CS, acid scab and soil rot of sweet potato. In addition, the best-characterized CS-causing pathogen, Streptomyces scabies, produces a molecule that is predicted to resemble the Pseudomonas syringae coronatine phytotoxin and which contributes to seedling disease symptom development. Other Streptomyces phytotoxic secondary metabolites that have been identified include concanamycins, FD-891 and borrelidin. Furthermore, there is evidence that additional, unknown metabolites may participate in Streptomyces plant pathogenicity. Such revelations have implications for the rational development of better management procedures for controlling CS and other Streptomyces plant diseases.