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Clarke C, Hayes BW, Runde BJ, Markel E, Swingle BM, Vinatzer BA.2016. Comparative genomics of Pseudomonas syringae pathovar tomato reveals novel chemotaxis pathways associated with motility and plant pathogenicity. PeerJ Preprints4:e2438v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2438v1
The majority of bacterial foliar plant pathogens must invade the apoplast of host plants through points of ingress, such as stomata or wounds, to replicate to high population density and cause disease. How pathogens navigate plant surfaces to locate invasion sites remains poorly understood. Many bacteria use chemical-directed regulation of flagellar rotation, a process known as chemotaxis, to move towards favorable environmental conditions. Chemotactic sensing of the plant surface is a potential mechanism through which foliar plant pathogens home in on wounds or stomata, but chemotactic systems in foliar plant pathogens are not well characterized. Comparative genomics of the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pathovar tomato (Pto) implicated annotated chemotaxis genes in the recent adaptations of one Pto lineage. We therefore characterized the chemosensory system of Pto. The Pto genome contains two primary chemotaxis gene clusters, che1 and che2. The che2 cluster is flanked by flagellar biosynthesis genes and similar to the canonical chemotaxis gene clusters of other bacteria based on sequence and synteny. Disruption of the primary phosphorelay kinase gene of the che2 cluster, cheA2, eliminated all swimming and surface motility at 21oC but not 28oC for Pto. The che1 cluster is located next to Type IV pili biosynthesis genes but disruption of cheA1 has no observable effect on twitching motility for Pto. Disruption of cheA2 also alters in planta fitness of the pathogen with strains lacking functional cheA2 being less fit in host plants but more fit in a non-host interaction.