The identification of genes important in pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola plant colonisation using in vitro screening of transposon libraries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Bharani Manoharan
  • Helen C. Neale
  • John T. Hancock
  • Robert Jackson
  • Dawn L. Arnold

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Biological Sciences
  • University of Reading


The bacterial plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola (Pph) colonises the surface of common bean plants before moving into the interior of plant tissue, via wounds and stomata. In the intercellular spaces the pathogen proliferates in the apoplastic fluid and forms microcolonies (biofilms) around plant cells. If the pathogen can suppress the plant's natural resistance response, it will cause halo blight disease. The process of resistance suppression is fairly well understood, but the mechanisms used by the pathogen in colonisation are less clear. We hypothesised that we could apply in vitro genetic screens to look for changes in motility, colony formation, and adhesion, which are proxies for infection, microcolony formation and cell adhesion. We made transposon (Tn) mutant libraries of Pph strains 1448Aand 1302Aand found 106/1920 mutants exhibited alterations in colony morphology, motility and biofilm formation. Identification of the insertion point of the Tn identified within the genome highlighted, as expected, a number of altered motility mutants bearing mutations in genes encoding various parts of the flagellum. Genes involved in nutrient biosynthesis, membrane associated proteins, and a number of conserved hypothetical protein (CHP) genes were also identified. A mutation of one CHP gene caused a positive increase in in planta bacterial growth. This rapid and inexpensive screening method allows the discovery of genes important forin vitro traits that can be correlated to roles in the plant interaction.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0137355
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015