Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2015) 81, 2591-2602
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Decreasing global transcript levels over time suggest that phytoplasma cells enter stationary phase during plant and insect colonization
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81 (7), 2591-2602
Abstract: To highlight different transcriptional behaviors of the phytoplasma in the plant and animal host, expression of 14 genes of "Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris," chrysanthemum yellows strain, was investigated at different times following the infection of a plant host (Arabidopsis thaliana) and two insect vector species (Macrosteles quadripunctulatus and Euscelidius variegatus). Target genes were selected among those encoding antigenic membrane proteins, membrane transporters, secreted proteins, and general enzymes. Transcripts were detected for all analyzed genes in the three hosts; in particular, those encoding the antigenic membrane protein Amp, elements of the mechanosensitive channel, and two of the four secreted proteins (SAP54 and TENGU) were highly accumulated, suggesting that they play important roles in phytoplasma physiology during the infection cycle. Most transcripts were present at higher abundance in the plant host than in the insect hosts. Generally, transcript levels of the selected genes decreased significantly during infection of A. thaliana and M. quadripunctulatus but were more constant in E. variegatus. Such decreases may be explained by the fact that only a fraction of the phytoplasma population was transcribing, while the remaining part was aging to a stationary phase. This strategy might improve long-term survival, thereby increasing the likelihood that the pathogen may be acquired by a vector and/or inoculated to a healthy plant.
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