Molecular Plant Pathology – Pathogen Profiles

Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato: the right pathogen, of the right plant, at the right time

Gail M. Preston
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB, UK

Summary:Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato and the closely related pathovar P. s. pv. maculicola have been the focus of intensive research in recent years, not only because of the diseases they cause on tomato and crucifers, but because strains such as P. s. pv. tomato DC3000 and P. s. pv. maculicola ES4326 are pathogens of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Consequently, both P. s. pv. tomato and P. s.pv. maculicola have been widely used to study the molecular mechanisms of host responses to infection. Analyses of the molecular basis of pathogenesis in P. s. pv. tomato reveal a complex and intimate interaction between bacteria and plant cells that depends on the coordinated expres-sion of multiple pathogenicity and virulence factors. These include toxins, extracellular proteins and polysaccharides, and the trans-location of proteins into plant cells by the type III (Hrp) secretion system. The contribution of individual virulence factors to parasitism and disease development varies significantly between strains. Application of functional genomics and cell biology to both pathogen and host within the P. s. pv. tomatoA. thaliana pathosystem provides a unique opportunity to unravel the molecular interactions underlying plant pathogenesis.
Taxonomic relationship:Bacteria; Proteobacteria; gamma subdivision; Pseudomonadaceae/Moraxellaceaegroup; Pseudomonadaceae family; Pseudomonas genus; Pseudomonas syringaespecies; tomato pathovar.
Microbiological properties:Gram-negative, aerobic, motile, rod-shaped, polar flagella, oxidase negative, arginine dihydrolase negative, DNA 58-60 mol% GC, elicits the hypersensitive response on tobacco.
Host range:Primarily studied as the causal agent of bacterial speck of tomato and as a model pathogen of A. thaliana, although it has been isolated from a wide range of crop and weed species.
Disease symptoms:Tomato ( Lycopersicon esculentum): Brown-black leaf spots sometimes surrounded by chlorotic margin; dark superficial specks on green fruit; specks on ripe fruit may become sunken, and are surrounded by a zone of delayed ripening. Stunting and yield loss, particularly if young plants are infected. Reduced market value of speckled fruit. A. thaliana: Water-soaked, spreading lesions, sometimes surrounded by chlorotic margin.
Epidemiology:Seed borne. Survives as a saprophyte in plant debris, soil and on leaf surfaces. Dispersed by aerosols and rain splash. Development of disease symptoms favoured by leaf wetness and cool temperatures (55-77 °F/ 13-25 °C).
Disease control:Pathogen-free seed and transplants. Resistant and tolerant cultivars. Sanitation, rotation, and drip irrigation to reduce leaf wetness. Some measure of control with bactericides (copper, streptomycin).

A. thaliana ecotype Columbia (right) 7 days after spray inoculation.