Plasmids play a crucial role in the ecology of agrobacteria. In this study, we sequenced tumor-inducing (Ti) and opine-catabolic (OC) plasmids in three Rhizobium rhizogenes (Agrobacterium biovar 2) strains isolated from the same crown gall tumor on "Colt" cherry rootstock and conducted comparative genomic analyses. Tumorigenic strains C5.7 and C6.5 carry nopaline-type Ti plasmids pTiC5.7/pTiC6.5, whereas the nonpathogenic strain Colt5.8 carries the nopaline-type OC plasmid pOC-Colt5.8. Overall, comparative genomic analysis indicated that pTiC5.7/pTiC6.5 and related Ti plasmids described before (pTiC58 and pTi-SAKURA) originate from a common ancestor, although they have diverged during evolution. On the other hand, plasmid pOC-Colt5.8 was most closely related to the well-known OC plasmid pAtK84b; however, analysis suggested that they had different evolutionary histories and seem to share a more distant common ancestor. Although the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of Ti and OC plasmids is still speculative, we hypothesized that nopaline-type Ti plasmid might originate from the nopaline-type OC plasmid. Our results suggested that OC plasmids are widespread and closely associated with crown gall tumors. Finally, we proposed a thorough scheme for classification of Ti and OC plasmids that is based on separate comparative analysis of each functional element of the plasmid studied.
Keywords: agrobacteria; crown gall; horizontal gene transfer; opine-catabolic (OC) plasmid; plasmid evolution; tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.