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Twitching and swimming motility play a role in Ralstonia solanacearum pathogenicity

AuthorsCorral, Jordi; Sebastià, Pau; Coll, Núria S.; Barbé, Jordi; Aranda, Jesús; Valls, Marc
KeywordsRalstonia solanacearum
Issue DateMar-2020
PublisherAmerican Society for Microbiology
CitationmSphere 5(2): 00740-19 (2020)
AbstractRalstonia solanacearum is a bacterial plant pathogen causing important economic losses worldwide. In addition to the polar flagella responsible for swimming motility, this pathogen produces type IV pili (TFP) that govern twitching motility, a flagellum-independent movement on solid surfaces. The implication of chemotaxis in plant colonization, through the control flagellar rotation by the proteins CheW and CheA, has been previously reported in R. solanacearum. In this work, we have identified in this bacterium homologues of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa pilI and chpA genes, suggested to play roles in TFP-associated motility analogous to those played by the cheW and cheA genes, respectively. We demonstrate that R. solanacearum strains with a deletion of the pilI or the chpA coding region show normal swimming and chemotaxis but altered biofilm formation and reduced twitching motility, transformation efficiency, and root attachment. Furthermore, these mutants displayed wild-type growth in planta and impaired virulence on tomato plants after soil-drench inoculations but not when directly applied to the xylem. Comparison with deletion mutants for pilA and fliC—encoding the major pilin and flagellin subunits, respectively—showed that both twitching and swimming are required for plant colonization and full virulence. This work proves for the first time the functionality of a pilus-mediated pathway encoded by pil-chp genes in R. solanacearum, demonstrating that pilI and chpA genes are bona fide motility regulators controlling twitching motility and its three related phenotypes: virulence, natural transformation, and biofilm formation.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00740-19
Appears in Collections:(CRAG) Artículos
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