Erwinia amylovora pyrC mutant causes fire blight despite pyrimidine auxotrophy

L. S. Ramos, J. P. Sinn, B. L. Lehman, E. E. Pfeufer, K. A. Peter, T. W. McNellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Erwinia amylovora bacteria cause fire blight disease, which affects apple and pear production worldwide. The Erw. amylovora pyrC gene encodes a predicted dihydroorotase enzyme involved in pyrimidine biosynthesis. Here, we discovered that the Erw. amylovora pyrC244::Tn5 mutant was a uracil auxotroph. Unexpectedly, the Erw. amylovora pyrC244::Tn5 mutant grew as well as the wild-type in detached immature apple and pear fruits. Fire blight symptoms caused by the pyrC244::Tn5 mutant in immature apple and pear fruits were attenuated compared to those caused by the wild-type. The pyrC244::Tn5 mutant also caused severe fire blight symptoms in apple tree shoots. A plasmid-borne copy of the wild-type pyrC gene restored prototrophy and symptom induction in apple and pear fruit to the pyrC244::Tn5 mutant. These results suggest that Erw. amylovora can obtain sufficient pyrimidine from the host to support bacterial growth and fire blight disease development, although de novo pyrimidine synthesis by Erw. amylovora is required for full symptom development in fruits. Significance and Impact of the Study: This study provides information about the fire blight host-pathogen interaction. Although the Erwinia amylovora pyrC mutant was strictly auxotrophic for pyrimidine, it grew as well as the wild-type in immature pear and apple fruits and caused severe fire blight disease in apple trees. This suggests that Erw. amylovora can obtain sufficient pyrimidines from host tissue to support growth and fire blight disease development. This situation contrasts with findings in some human bacterial pathogens, which require de novo pyrimidine synthesis for growth in host blood, for example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-579
Number of pages8
JournalLetters in Applied Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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