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Microbiology. 2006 Jun;152(Pt 6):1867-75.

The histidine utilization (hut) genes of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 are active on plant surfaces, but are not required for competitive colonization of sugar beet seedlings.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, UK. xx.zhang@auckland.ac.nz

Abstract

The ability to monitor the spatial and temporal distribution of signals in complex environments is necessary for an understanding of the function of bacteria in the wild. To this end, an existing recombinase-based transcriptional reporter strategy (recombinase-based in vivo expression technology, RIVET) has been extended and applied to the plant-colonizing bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. Central to the project was a rhizosphere-inducible locus, rhi14, which functional analyses show is hutT, a histidine-inducible gene that is required for histidine utilization. A transcriptional fusion between hutT and a promoterless site-specific recombinase (tnpR(mut168)) results in excision of a chromosomally integrated tetracycline-resistance cassette in a histidine-dependent manner. The dose- and time-responsiveness of the promoterless recombinase to histidine closely mirrored the histidine responsiveness of an identical hutT fusion to promoterless lacZ. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the strategy, the activity of hutT was monitored on sugar beet seedlings. Low levels of transcriptional activity were detected in the phyllosphere, rhizosphere and in plant extract, but not in vermiculite devoid of seedlings. The histidine concentration in the rhizosphere was estimated to be 0.6 microg ml(-1). The ecological significance of the hut locus was examined by competing a hutT deletion mutant against the wild-type during colonization of sugar beet seedlings. No impact on competitive fitness was detected, suggesting that the ability to utilize plant-derived histidine is not essential for bacterial colonization.

PMID:
16735749
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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