Acyl-homoserine lactone-mediated cross talk among epiphytic bacteria modulates behavior of Pseudomonas syringae on leaves

ISME J. 2009 Jul;3(7):825-34. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2009.30. Epub 2009 Apr 2.


The leaf surface harbors a host of bacterial epiphytes that are capable of influencing the quorum sensing (QS) system of the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (Pss). Pss uses QS to regulate expression of genes conferring extracellular polysaccharide production, motility and factors contributing to virulence to plants. About 7% of bacterial epiphytes isolated in this study produce the Pss cognate signal, 3-oxohexanoyl-homoserine lactone (3OC6HSL), often in amounts more than 10-fold higher than Pss. Premature induction of QS in Pss by these 3OC6HSL-producing epiphytes suppressed swarming motility and subsequent disease of the leaf. Co-inoculation of 3OC6HSL-producing strains with Pss reduced the number of lesions when inoculated together onto leaves compared with that of plants inoculated with Pss alone. Strains in which 3OC6HSL accumulation was quenched by expression of an N-acyl-homoserine lactonase did not decrease disease when co-inoculated with Pss. Disease incidence caused by a nonmotile mutant of Pss was not affected by 3OC6HSL-producing bacteria, suggesting that exogenous 3OC6HSL signal that altered the motility of Pss was responsible for reducing the apparent virulence of this pathogen. Thus, considerable cross talk involving exogenous 3OC6HSL occurs on leaves and this process can be exploited for disease control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / metabolism
  • Antibiosis*
  • Locomotion / drug effects
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Plant Leaves / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas syringae / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas syringae / growth & development
  • Pseudomonas syringae / physiology*
  • Quorum Sensing*
  • Virulence / drug effects


  • N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-3-aminodihydro-2(3H)-furanone
  • 4-Butyrolactone