Integrity and stability of virulence plasmids from Pseudomonas syringae are modulated by mobile genetic elements and multiple toxin-antitoxin systems
Leire Bardaji, Maite Añorga, Myriam Echeverría, Cayo Ramos, Jesús Murillo
Virulence plasmids are critically exposed to genetic decay and loss, particularly in Pseudomonas syringae strains because of their high content of mobile genetic elements and their exploitation of environmental niches outside of the plant host. The demonstrated high plasticity and adaptability of P. syringae plasmids, involving the acquisition and loss of large DNA regions, contrasts with their usual high stability and the maintenance of key virulence genes in free living conditions. The
... ication of plasmid stability determinants and mechanisms will help to understand their evolution and adaptability to agroecosystems as well as to develop more efficient control measures. Results: We show that the three virulence plasmids of P. syringae pv. savastanoi NCPPB 3335 contain diverse functional stability determinants, including three toxin-antitoxin systems (TA) in both pPsv48A and pPsv48C, whereas one of the two replicons of pPsv48C can confer stable inheritance by itself. Loss of pPsv48A increased by two orders of magnitude upon functional inactivation of its TA systems. However, inactivation of the TA systems from pPsv48C did not result in its curing but led to the recovery of diverse deletion derivatives. One type consisted in the deletion of an 8.3 kb fragment, with a frequency of 3.8 ± 0.3 × 10-3, by recombination between two copies of MITEPsy2. Likewise, IS801 promoted the occurrence of deletions of variable size by one-ended transposition with a frequency of 5.5 ± 2.1 × 10-4, 80 % of which resulted in the loss of virulence gene idi. These deletion derivatives were stably maintained in the population by replication mediated by repJ, which is adjacent to IS801. IS801 also promoted deletions in plasmid pPsv48A, either by recombination or one-ended transposition. In all cases, functional TA systems contributed significantly to reduce the occurrence of plasmid deletions in vivo. Conclusions: Virulence plasmids from P. syringae harbour a diverse array of stability determinants with a variable contribution to plasmid persistence. Additionally, multiple TA systems favour the long-term survival and integrity of virulence plasmids, as well as the maintenance of pathogenicity genes in free-living conditions. This strategy is likely widespread amongst native plasmids of P. syringae and other bacteria.