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Comparison of the Behavior of Epiphytic Fitness Mutants of Pseudomonas syringae under Controlled and Field Conditions

  • Beattie, Gwyn A.
  • Lindow, Steven E.
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1994
PubMed Central


The epiphytic fitness of four Tn5 mutants of Pseudomonas syringae that exhibited reduced epiphytic fitness in the laboratory was evaluated under field conditions. The mutants differed more from the parental strain under field conditions than under laboratory conditions in their survival immediately following inoculation onto bean leaves and in the size of the epiphytic populations that they established, demonstrating that their fitness was reduced more under field conditions than in the laboratory. Under both conditions, the four mutants exhibited distinctive behaviors. One mutant exhibited particularly large population decreases and short half-lives following inoculation but grew epiphytically at near-wild-type rates, while the others exhibited reduced survival only in the warmest, driest conditions tested and grew epiphytically at reduced rates or, in the case of one mutant, not at all. The presence of the parental strain, B728a, did not influence the survival or growth of three of the mutants under field conditions; however, one mutant, an auxotroph, established larger populations in the presence of B728a than in its absence, possibly because of cross-feeding by B728a in planta. Experiments with B728a demonstrated that established epiphytic populations survived exposure of leaves to dry conditions better than newly inoculated cells did and that epiphytic survival was not dependent on the cell density in the inoculum. Three of the mutants behaved similarly to two nonpathogenic strains of P. syringae, suggesting that the mutants may be altered in traits that are missing or poorly expressed in naturally occurring nonpathogenic epiphytes.

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