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Plant Cell. 2006 Mar;18(3):764-79. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Within-species flagellin polymorphism in Xanthomonas campestris pv campestris and its impact on elicitation of Arabidopsis FLAGELLIN SENSING2-dependent defenses.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA.


Bacterial flagellins have been portrayed as a relatively invariant pathogen-associated molecular pattern. We have found within-species, within-pathovar variation for defense-eliciting activity of flagellins among Xanthomonas campestris pv campestris (Xcc) strains. Arabidopsis thaliana FLAGELLIN SENSING2 (FLS2), a transmembrane leucine-rich repeat kinase, confers flagellin responsiveness. The flg22 region was the only Xcc flagellin region responsible for detectable elicitation of Arabidopsis defense responses. A Val-43/Asp polymorphism determined the eliciting/noneliciting nature of Xcc flagellins (structural gene fliC). Arabidopsis detected flagellins carrying Asp-43 or Asn-43 but not Val-43 or Ala-43, and it responded minimally for Glu-43. Wild-type Xcc strains carrying nonrecognized flagellin were more virulent than those carrying a recognized flagellin when infiltrated into Arabidopsis leaf mesophyll, but this correlation was misleading. Isogenic Xcc fliC gene replacement strains expressing eliciting or noneliciting flagellins grew similarly, both in leaf mesophyll and in hydathode/vascular colonization assays. The plant FLS2 genotype also had no detectable effect on disease outcome when previously untreated plants were infected by Xcc. However, resistance against Xcc was enhanced if FLS2-dependent responses were elicited 1 d before Xcc infection. Prior immunization was not required for FLS2-dependent restriction of Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato. We conclude that plant immune systems do not uniformly detect all flagellins of a particular pathogen species and that Xcc can evade Arabidopsis FLS2-mediated defenses unless the FLS2 system has been activated by previous infections.

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