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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 2;101(9):3269-74. Epub 2004 Feb 23.

Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato cells encounter inhibitory levels of water stress during the hypersensitive response of Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Plant Pathology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50014, USA.


During plant defense against bacterial pathogens, the hypersensitive response (HR) functions to restrict pathogen growth and spread. The mechanisms driving this growth restriction are poorly understood. We used a water stress-responsive transcriptional fusion to quantify the water potential sensed by individual Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 cells during infection of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves. A nonpathogenic DC3000 hrcC mutant defective in type III secretion, as well as the saprophyte Pseudomonas fluorescens A506, sensed water potentials of -0.3 to -0.4 MPa at 48 h postinfiltration (hpi). During pathogenesis, DC3000 sensed lower water potentials (-0.4 to -0.9 MPa), demonstrating that it can modify the intercellular environment, and these water potentials were associated with optimal DC3000 growth in culture. During the HR, DC3000 cells sensed water potentials (-1.6 to -2.2 MPa) that were low enough to prevent cell division in the majority of cells in culture. This water potential decrease occurred within only 4 hpi and was influenced by avirulence gene expression, with avrRpm1 expression associated with lower water potentials than avrRpt2 or avrB expression at 48 hpi. The population sizes of the DC3000 variants tested were significantly correlated with the apoplastic water potential at 48 hpi, with a decrease of -0.9 MPa associated with a 10-fold decrease in cells per gram of leaf. These results suggest that the apoplastic water potential is a determinant of endophytic bacterial population size, and water stress, resulting from high osmolarity or tissue desiccation, is at least one factor restricting bacterial growth during the HR.

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