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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2006;44:305-36.

Comparative genomics reveals what makes an enterobacterial plant pathogen.

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Plant Pathology Program, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA, United Kingdom.


The bacterial family Enterobacteriaceae contains some of the most devastating human and animal pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica and species of Yersinia and Shigella. These are among the best-studied of any organisms, yet there is much to be learned about the nature and evolution of interactions with their hosts and with the wider environment. Comparative and functional genomics have fundamentally improved our understanding of their modes of adaptation to different ecological niches and the genes that determine their pathogenicity. In addition to animal pathogens, Enterobacteriaceae include important plant pathogens, such as Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica (Eca), the first plant-pathogenic enterobacterium to be sequenced. This review focuses on genomic comparisons between Eca and other enterobacteria, with particular emphasis on the differences that exemplify or explain the plant-associated lifestyle(s) of Eca. Horizontal gene transfer in Eca may directly have led to the acquisition of a number of determinants that mediate its interactions, pathogenic or otherwise, with plants, offering a glimpse into its evolutionary divergence from animal-pathogenic enterobacteria.

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