The Rcs phosphorelay system is essential for pathogenicity in Erwinia amylovora

Dongping Wang, Schuyler S. Korban, Youfu Zhao

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The Rcs phosphorelay system is a modified two-component signal transduction system found exclusively in Enterobacteriaceae. In this study, we characterized the roles of the Rcs system in Erwinia amylovora, a highly virulent and necrogenic enterobacterium causing fire blight disease on rosaceous plants. Our results showed that rcsB, rcsC, rcsD and rcsBD mutants were non-pathogenic on immature pear fruit. The bacterial growth of these mutants was also greatly reduced compared with that of the wild-type strain in immature pear fruit. In an in vitro amylovoran assay, rcsB and rcsD mutants were deficient in amylovoran production, whereas the rcsC mutant exhibited higher amylovoran production than that of the wild-type. Consistent with amylovoran production, expression of the amylovoran biosynthetic gene amsG, using green fluorescent protein as a reporter, was not detectable in rcsB, rcsD and rcsBD mutants both in vitro and in vivo. The expression of amsG in vitro was higher in the rcsC mutant than in the wild-type, whereas its expression in vivo was higher in the wild-type than in the rcsC mutant. In addition, rcs mutants were more susceptible to polymyxin B treatment than the wild-type, suggesting that the Rcs system conferred some level of resistance to polymyxin B. Furthermore, rcs mutants showed irregular and slightly reduced motility on swarming plates. Together, these results indicate that the Rcs system plays a major role in virulence and survival of E. amylovora in immature pear fruit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-290
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Plant Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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