Mutations affecting chemotaxis ofAgrobacterium vitisstrain E26 also alter attachment to grapevine roots and biocontrol of crown gall disease

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Crown gall in grapevine, caused by tumorigenic Agrobacterium vitis strains, can cause severe losses in most viticulture regions worldwide. The only effective means of control is through cultivation practices. One non-tumorigenic A. vitis strain, E26, can prevent crown gall infection when applied to wounds on grapevine prior to or simultaneous with inoculation of tumorigenic strains. ME19, a Tn5 mutant of strain E26, was impaired in terms of its ability to be chemo-attracted by grapevine root tissue extracts and its attachment to grapevine roots, and had reduced biological control activity; it did not significantly differ from the wild-type strain of E26 in phenotypes of agrocin production, growth in minimum medium or swarming activity. Complementation of ME19 with the cosmid clone of CP1543 from an E26 DNA library restored the chemotaxis, attachment, and biocontrol phenotypes. A 7·3-kb KpnI fragment from CP1543 was cloned and sequenced, and sequence analysis revealed that the Tn5 insertion occurred in a region that shares a significant homology with genes coding for methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs) in many bacteria. Complementation of the mcp gene mutants restored the affected phenotypes to the level of wild-type E26. An in-frame deletion mutant of the mcp gene was generated and was determined to have the same phenotypes as the original Tn5 mutant.

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