Differential expression of virulence genes and motility in Ralstonia (Pseudomonas) solanacearum during exponential growth

Steven J. Clough, Albert B. Flavier, Mark A. Schell, Timothy P. Denny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A complex network regulates virulence in Ralstonia solanacearum (formerly Pseudomonas solanacearum); central to this system is PhcA, a LysR- type transcriptional regulator. We report here that two PhcA-regulated virulence factors, endogluconase (Egl) and acidic exopolysaccharide I (EPS I), and motility are expressed differentially during exponential growth in batch cultures. Tests with strains carrying lacZ fusions in a wild-type genetic background revealed that expression (on a per-cell basis) of phcA was constant but expression of egl and epsB increased 20- to 50-fold during multiplication from 1 x 107 to 5 x 108 CFU/ml. Expression of xpsR, an intermediate regulator downstream of PhcA in the regulatory cascade for eps expression, was similar to that of epsB and egl. Motility track photography revealed that all strains were essentially nonmotile at 106 CFU/ml. As cell density increased, 30 to 50% of wild-type cells were motile between 107 and 108 CFU/ml, but this population was again nonmotile at 109 CFU/ml. In contrast, about 60% of the cells of phcB and phcA mutants remained motile at 109 CFU/ml. Expression of phcB, which is not positively regulated by PhcA, was the inverse of epsB, egl, and xpsR (i.e., it decreased 20-fold at high cell density). PhcB is essential for production of on extracellular factor, tentatively identified as 3-hydroxypalmitic acid methyl ester (3-OH PAME), that might act as an exponential-phase signal to activate motility or expression of virulence genes. However, growth of the lacZ fusion strains in medium containing excess 3-OH PAME did not result in motility or expression of virulence genes at dramatically lower cell densities, suggesting that 3- OH PAME is not the only factor controlling these traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)844-850
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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