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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2009 Feb;291(1):80-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2008.01438.x. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Effect of a waaL mutation on lipopolysaccharide composition, oxidative stress survival, and virulence in Erwinia amylovora.

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1
Program in Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.

Abstract

Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight, is an enterobacterial pathogen of Rosaceous plants including apple and pear. We have been studying the response of E. amylovora to oxidative stress because, during infection, the bacterium elicits an oxidative burst response in host plants. During the screening of a transposon mutant library for hydrogen peroxide sensitivity, we identified a mutant carrying an insertion in waaL, a gene involved in lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis, that was more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide than the parental wild-type strain. We also confirmed that a waaL mutant of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibited an increased sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide compared with the wild-type strain. The E. amylovora waaL mutant was also reduced in virulence, showed a decrease in twitching motility, and was more sensitive to polymyxin B than the wild type. Each of these phenotypes was complemented by the cloned waaL gene. Our results highlight the importance of the lipopolysaccharide layer to virulence in E. amylovora and the unexpected finding of an additional function of lipopolysaccharide in protection from oxidative stress in E. amylovora and P. aeruginosa.

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