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Microb Ecol. 2011 Jan;61(1):101-12. doi: 10.1007/s00248-010-9728-0. Epub 2010 Aug 18.

Ralstonia solanacearum ΔPGI-1 strain KZR-5 is affected in growth, response to cold stress and invasion of tomato.

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Department of Microbial Ecology, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies (CEES), University of Groningen, P.O. Box 14, 9759 AA, Haren, The Netherlands.


The survival and persistence of Ralstonia solanacearum biovar 2 in temperate climates is still poorly understood. To assess whether genomic variants of the organism show adaptation to local conditions, we compared the behaviour of environmental strain KZR-5, which underwent a deletion of the 17.6 kb genomic island PGI-1, with that of environmental strain KZR-1 and potato-derived strains 1609 and 715. PGI-1 harbours two genes of potential ecological relevance, i.e. one encoding a hypothetical protein with a RelA/SpoT domain and one a putative cellobiohydrolase. We thus assessed bacterial fate under conditions of amino acid starvation, during growth, upon incubation at low temperature and invasion of tomato plants. In contrast to the other strains, environmental strain KZR-5 did not grow on media that induce amino acid starvation. In addition, its maximum growth rate at 28°C in rich medium was significantly reduced. On the other hand, long-term survival at 4°C was significantly enhanced as compared to that of strains 1609, 715 and KZR-1. Although strain KZR-5 showed growth rates (at 28°C) in two different media, which were similar to those of strains 1609 and 715, its ability to compete with these strains under these conditions was reduced. In singly inoculated tomato plants, no significant differences in invasiveness were observed among strains KZR-5, KZR-1, 1609 and 715. However, reduced competitiveness of strain KZR-5 was found in experiments on tomato plant colonisation and wilting when using 1:1 or 5:1 mixtures of strains. The potential role of PGI-1 in plant invasion, response to stress and growth in competition at high and moderate temperatures is discussed.

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