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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Dec;73(23):7552-61. Epub 2007 Oct 5.

Distribution and replication of the pathogenicity plasmid pPATH in diverse populations of the gall-forming bacterium Pantoea agglomerans.

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  • 1Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Research, ARO, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel.


Pantoea agglomerans has been transformed from a commensal bacterium into two related gall-forming pathovars by acquisition of pPATH plasmids containing a pathogenicity island (PAI). This PAI harbors an hrp/hrc gene cluster, type III effectors, and phytohormone biosynthetic genes. DNA typing by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed two major groups of P. agglomerans pv. gypsophilae and one group of P. agglomerans pv. betae. The pPATH plasmids of the different groups had nearly identical replicons (98% identity), and the RepA protein showed the highest level of similarity with IncN plasmid proteins. A series of plasmids, designated pRAs, in which the whole replicon region (2,170 bp) or deleted derivatives of it were ligated with nptI were generated for replicon analysis. A basic 929-bp replicon (pRA6) was sufficient for replication in Escherichia coli and in nonpathogenic P. agglomerans. However, the whole replicon region (pRA1) was necessary for expulsion of the pPATH plasmid, which resulted in the loss of pathogenicity. The presence of direct repeats in the replicon region suggests that the pPATH plasmid is an iteron plasmid and that the repeats may regulate its replication. The pPATH plasmids are nonconjugative but exhibit a broad host range, as shown by replication of pRA1 in Erwinia, Pseudomonas, and Xanthomonas. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses indicated that the PAIs in the two groups of P. agglomerans pv. gypsophilae are similar but different from those in P. agglomerans pv. betae. The results could indicate that the pPATH plasmids evolved from a common ancestral mobilizable plasmid that was transferred into different strains of P. agglomerans.

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