High levels of cyclic-di-GMP in plant-associated Pseudomonas correlate with evasion of plant immunity

Sebastian Pfeilmeier, Isabel Marie-Luise Saur, John Paul Rathjen, Cyril Zipfel, Jacob George Malone

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The plant innate immune system employs plasma membrane-localized receptors that specifically perceive pathogen/microbe-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs/MAMPs). This induces a defence response called pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) to fend off pathogen attack. Commensal bacteria are also exposed to potential immune recognition and must employ strategies to evade and/or suppress PTI to successfully colonize the plant. During plant infection, the flagellum has an ambiguous role, acting as both a virulence factor and also as a potent immunogen as a result of the recognition of its main building block, flagellin, by the plant pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), including FLAGELLIN SENSING2 (FLS2). Therefore, strict control of flagella synthesis is especially important for plant-associated bacteria. Here, we show that cyclic-di-GMP [bis-(3'-5')-cyclic di-guanosine monophosphate], a central regulator of bacterial lifestyle, is involved in the evasion of PTI. Elevated cyclic-di-GMP levels in the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pto) DC3000, the opportunist P. aeruginosa PAO1 and the commensal P. protegens Pf-5 inhibit flagellin synthesis and help the bacteria to evade FLS2-mediated signalling in Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana. Despite this, high cellular cyclic-di-GMP concentrations were shown to drastically reduce the virulence of Pto DC3000 during plant infection. We propose that this is a result of reduced flagellar motility and/or additional pleiotropic effects of cyclic-di-GMP signalling on bacterial behaviour. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-531
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Plant Pathology
Issue number4
Early online date8 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • cyclic-di-GMP
  • flagellin
  • immune evasion
  • Pseudomonas
  • PTI

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