Deployment of the Burkholderia glumae type III secretion system as an efficient tool for translocating pathogen effectors to monocot cells


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Genome sequences of plant fungal pathogens have enabled the identification of effectors that cooperatively modulate the cellular environment for successful fungal growth and suppress host defense. Identification and characterization of novel effector proteins are crucial for understanding pathogen virulence and host-plant defense mechanisms. Previous reports indicate that the Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 type III secretion system (T3SS) can be used to study how non-bacterial effectors manipulate dicot plant cell function using the effector detector vector (pEDV) system. Here we report a pEDV-based effector delivery system in which the T3SS of Burkholderia glumae, an emerging rice pathogen, is used to translocate the AVR-Pik and AVR-Pii effectors of the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae to rice cytoplasm. The translocated AVR-Pik and AVR-Pii showed avirulence activity when tested in rice cultivars containing the cognate R genes. AVR-Pik reduced and delayed the hypersensitive response triggered by B. glumae in the non-host plant Nicotiana benthamiana, indicative of an immunosuppressive virulence activity. AVR proteins fused with fluorescent protein and nuclear localization signal were delivered by Bglumae T3SS and observed in the nuclei of infected cells in rice, wheat, barley and N. benthamiana. Our bacterial T3SS-enabled eukaryotic effector delivery and subcellular localization assays provide a useful method for identifying and studying effector functions in monocot plants.