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PLoS One. 2014 Mar 13;9(3):e91645. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091645. eCollection 2014.

Responses to elevated c-di-GMP levels in mutualistic and pathogenic plant-interacting bacteria.

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Dpto. Microbiología del Suelo y Sistemas Simbióticos, Estación Experimental del Zaidín, CSIC, Granada, Spain.
Área de Genética, Universidad de Málaga, Instituto de Hortofruticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea "La Mayora", Universidad de Málaga-CSIC (IHSM-UMA-CSIC), Málaga, Spain.


Despite a recent burst of research, knowledge on c-di-GMP signaling pathways remains largely fragmentary and molecular mechanisms of regulation and even c-di-GMP targets are yet unknown for most bacteria. Besides genomics or bioinformatics, accompanying alternative approaches are necessary to reveal c-di-GMP regulation in bacteria with complex lifestyles. We have approached this study by artificially altering the c-di-GMP economy of diverse pathogenic and mutualistic plant-interacting bacteria and examining the effects on the interaction with their respective host plants. Phytopathogenic Pseudomonas and symbiotic Rhizobium strains with enhanced levels of intracellular c-di-GMP displayed common free-living responses: reduction of motility, increased production of extracellular polysaccharides and enhanced biofilm formation. Regarding the interaction with the host plants, P. savastanoi pv. savastanoi cells containing high c-di-GMP levels formed larger knots on olive plants which, however, displayed reduced necrosis. In contrast, development of disease symptoms in P. syringae-tomato or P. syringae-bean interactions did not seem significantly affected by high c-di-GMP. On the other hand, increasing c-di-GMP levels in symbiotic R. etli and R. leguminosarum strains favoured the early stages of the interaction since enhanced adhesion to plant roots, but decreased symbiotic efficiency as plant growth and nitrogen contents were reduced. Our results remark the importance of c-di-GMP economy for plant-interacting bacteria and show the usefulness of our approach to reveal particular stages during plant-bacteria associations which are sensitive to changes in c-di-GMP levels.

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