Pyramiding unmarked deletions in Ralstonia solanacearum shows that secreted proteins in addition to plant cell-wall-degrading enzymes contribute to virulence

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2005 Dec;18(12):1296-305. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-18-1296.


Ralstonia solanacearum, like many phytopathogenic bacteria, makes multiple extracellular plant cell-wall-degrading enzymes (CWDE), some of which contribute to its ability to cause wilt disease. CWDE and many other proteins are secreted to the milieu via the highly conserved type II protein secretion system (T2SS). R. solanacearum with a defective T2SS is weakly virulent, but it is not known whether this is due to absence of all the CWDE or the loss of other secreted proteins that contribute to disease. These alternatives were investigated by creating mutants of wild-type strain GMI1000 lacking either the T2SS or up to six CWDE and comparing them for virulence on tomato plants. To create unmarked deletions, genomic regions flanking the target gene were polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified, were fused using splice overlap extension PCR, were cloned into a suicide plasmid harboring the sacB counter-selectable marker, and then, were site-specifically introduced into the genome. Various combinations of five deletions (delta pehA, delta pehB, delta B, PehC, and Pme) was not statistically different from GMI1000, but all the mutants lacking one or both cellulolytic enzymes (Egl or CbhA) wilted plants significantly more slowly than did the wild type. The GMI-6 mutant that lacks all six CWDE was more virulent than the mutant lacking only its two cellulolytic enzymes, and both were significantly more virulent than the T2SS mutant (GMI-D). Very similar results were observed in wounded-petiole inoculation assays, so GMI-6 and GMI-D appear to be less capable of colonizing tomato tissues after invasion. Because the T2SS mutant was much less virulent than the sixfold CWDE mutant, we conclude that other secreted proteins contribute substantially to the ability of R. solanacearum GMI1000 to systemically colonize tomato plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Hydrolases / genetics
  • Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / cytology
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Ralstonia solanacearum / enzymology
  • Ralstonia solanacearum / genetics
  • Ralstonia solanacearum / metabolism*
  • Ralstonia solanacearum / pathogenicity*
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Hydrolases