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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1987 Oct;53(10):2528-33.

Flagellar Motility Confers Epiphytic Fitness Advantages upon Pseudomonas syringae.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720.


The role of flagellar motility in determining the epiphytic fitness of an ice-nucleation-active strain of Pseudomonas syringae was examined. The loss of flagellar motility reduced the epiphytic fitness of a normally motile P. syringae strain as measured by its growth, survival, and competitive ability on bean leaf surfaces. Equal population sizes of motile parental or nonmotile mutant P. syringae strains were maintained on bean plants for at least 5 days following the inoculation of fully expanded primary leaves. However, when bean seedlings were inoculated before the primary leaves had expanded and bacterial populations on these leaves were quantified at full expansion, the population size of the nonmotile derivative strain reached only 0.9% that of either the motile parental or revertant strain. When fully expanded bean primary leaves were coinoculated with equal numbers of motile and nonmotile cells, the population size of a nonmotile derivative strain was one-third of that of the motile parental or revertant strain after 8 days. Motile and nonmotile cells were exposed in vitro and on plants to UV radiation and desiccating conditions. The motile and nonmotile strains exhibited equal resistance to both stresses in vitro. However, the population size of a nonmotile strain on leaves was less than 20% that of a motile revertant strain when sampled immediately after UV irradiation. Epiphytic populations of both motile and nonmotile P. syringae declined under desiccating conditions on plants, and after 8 days, the population size of a nonmotile strain was less than one-third that of the motile parental or revertant strain.


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