Long- and short-chain plant-produced bacterial N-acyl-homoserine lactones become components of phyllosphere, rhizosphere, and soil

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2006 Mar;19(3):227-39. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-19-0227.


Two N-acyl-homoserine lactone (acyl-HSL) synthase genes, lasI from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and yenI from Yersinia enterocolitica, were introduced into tobacco, individually and in combination. Liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometry and thin-layer chromatography confirmed products of lasI and yenI activity in single and cotransformants. Cotransformants expressing plastid-localized LasI and YenI synthases produced the major acyl-HSLs for each synthase in all tissues tested. Total acyl-HSL signals accumulated in leaf tissue up to 3 pmol/mg of fresh weight, half as much in stem tissue, and approximately 10-fold less in root tissues. Acyl-HSLs were present in aqueous leaf washes from greenhouse-grown transgenic plants. Transgenic lines grown for 14 days under axenic conditions produced detectable levels of acyl-HSLs in root exudates. Ethyl acetate extractions of rhizosphere and nonrhizosphere soil from transgenically grown plants contained active acyl-HSLs, whereas plant-free soil or rhizosphere and nonrhizosphere soil from wild-type plants lacked detectable amounts of acyl-HSLs. This work shows that bioactive acyl-HSLs are exuded from leaves and roots and accumulate in the phytosphere of plants engineered to produce acyl-HSLs. These data further suggest that plants that are bioengineered to synthesize acyl-HSLs can foster beneficial plant-bacteria communications or deter deleterious interactions. Therefore, it is feasible to use bioengineered plants to supplement soils with specific acyl-HSLs to modulate bacterial phenotypes and plant-associated bacterial community structures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / chemistry
  • 4-Butyrolactone / metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / metabolism*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism
  • Soil / analysis*
  • Tobacco / genetics
  • Tobacco / metabolism*
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / genetics
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / metabolism


  • Soil
  • homoserine lactone
  • 4-Butyrolactone