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Mol Microbiol. 2005 Feb;55(4):1025-33.

A large, mobile pathogenicity island confers plant pathogenicity on Streptomyces species.

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Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.


Potato scab is a globally important disease caused by polyphyletic plant pathogenic Streptomyces species. Streptomyces acidiscabies, Streptomyces scabies and Streptomyces turgidiscabies possess a conserved biosynthetic pathway for the nitrated dipeptide phytotoxin thaxtomin. These pathogens also possess the nec1 gene which encodes a necrogenic protein that is an independent virulence factor. In this article we describe a large (325-660 kb) pathogenicity island (PAI) conserved among these three plant pathogenic Streptomyces species. A partial DNA sequence of this PAI revealed the thaxtomin biosynthetic pathway, nec1, a putative tomatinase gene, and many mobile genetic elements. In addition, the PAI from S. turgidiscabies contains a plant fasciation (fas) operon homologous to and colinear with the fas operon in the plant pathogen Rhodococcus fascians. The PAI was mobilized during mating from S. turgidiscabies to the non-pathogens Streptomyces coelicolor and Streptomyces diastatochromogenes on a 660 kb DNA element and integrated site-specifically into a putative integral membrane lipid kinase. Acquisition of the PAI conferred a pathogenic phenotype on S. diastatochromogenes but not on S. coelicolor. This PAI is the first to be described in a Gram-positive plant pathogenic bacterium and is responsible for the emergence of new plant pathogenic Streptomyces species in agricultural systems.

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