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Reconstructing host range evolution of bacterial plant pathogens using Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato and its close relatives as a model

Cai, Rongman, Yan, Shuangchun, Liu, Haijie, Leman, Scotland, Vinatzer, Boris A.
Infection, genetics, and evolution 2011 v.11 no.7 pp. 1738-1751
Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato, ancestry, animal pathogens, crops, host range, host specificity, humans, models, phylogeny, plant communities, plant pathogenic bacteria, wild plants, Africa
Several lines of evidence suggest that highly virulent bacterial human pathogens evolved from less virulent wider host range animal pathogens since human migration out of Africa. To investigate evolution of host specificity of bacterial plant pathogens, here we report a molecular evolutionary analysis of the model plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 and of close relatives that are pathogens of a diverse set of crop plants. Extensive host range tests on five different plant species were performed. Combining phylogenetic data with host range data, a reconstruction of host range of all putative ancestors was performed. In particular, the hypothesis was tested that highly virulent narrow host range pathogens of today’s crops grown in monoculture evolved from ancestors with wider host range that were adapted to natural mixed plant communities of pre-agricultural times. We found support for this hypothesis in individual clades. However, reconstruction of host range of the most recent common ancestor of all analyzed strains was not conclusive. Based on the obtained results we stress the importance of including pathogens from wild plants when reconstructing the evolution of plant pathogenic bacteria.