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BMC microbiology [electronic resource]


washington; seattle; ISB


BACKGROUND: The type VI protein secretion system (T6SS) is important in diverse cellular processes in Gram-negative bacteria, including interactions with other bacteria and with eukaryotic hosts. In this study we analyze the evolution of the T6SS in the genus Xanthomonas and evaluate its importance of the T6SS for virulence and in vitro motility in Xanthomonas phaseoli pv. manihotis (Xpm), the causal agent of bacterial blight in cassava (Manihot esculenta). We delineate the organization of the T6SS gene clusters in Xanthomonas and then characterize proteins of this secretion system in Xpm strain CIO151.

RESULTS: We describe the presence of three different clusters in the genus Xanthomonas that vary in their organization and degree of synteny between species. Using a gene knockout strategy, we also found that vgrG and hcp are required for maximal aggressiveness of Xpm on cassava plants while clpV is important for both motility and maximal aggressiveness.

CONCLUSION: We characterized the T6SS in 15 different strains in Xanthomonas and our phylogenetic analyses suggest that the T6SS might have been acquired by a very ancient event of horizontal gene transfer and maintained through evolution, hinting at their importance for the adaptation of Xanthomonas to their hosts. Finally, we demonstrated that the T6SS of Xpm is functional, and significantly contributes to virulence and motility. This is the first experimental study that demonstrates the role of the T6SS in the Xpm-cassava interaction and the T6SS organization in the genus Xanthomonas.


Institute for Systems Biology