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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #373336

Research Project: Integrated Disease Management of Exotic and Emerging Plant Diseases of Horticultural Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Research

Title: Unexpected conservation and global transmission of agrobacterial virulence plasmids

Author
item WEISBURY, AJ - Oregon State University
item DAVIS, EDWARD - Oregon State University
item TABIMA, JAVIER - Oregon State University
item BELCHER, MICHAEL - Oregon State University
item MILLER, MARILYN - Oregon State University
item KUO, CHIH-HORNG - Academia Sinica
item LAI, ERH-MIN - Academia Sinica
item LOPER, JOYCE - Oregon State University
item Grunwald, Niklaus - Nik
item PUTNAM, MELODIE - Oregon State University
item CHANG, JEFF - Oregon State University

Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2020
Publication Date: 6/5/2020
Citation: Weisbury, A., Davis, E.W., Tabima, J., Belcher, M.S., Miller, M., Kuo, C., Lai, E., Loper, J.E., Grunwald, N.J., Putnam, M.L., Chang, J.H. 2020. Unexpected conservation and global transmission of agrobacterial virulence plasmids. Science. 368(6495). https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aba5256.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aba5256

Interpretive Summary: The accelerated evolution and spread of pathogens are significant threats to host species. Agrobacteria require an gall causing plasmids, namely shorter DNA strands replicating independently of the chromosome, to transfer genes into plants and cause disease. We developed a new strategy to characterize virulence plasmids and applied it to analyze hundreds of strains collected from 1927-2017, six continents, and more than 50 host species. Our work revealed that these gall-froming plasmids are descended from a few conserved lineages. Characterization of a hierarchy of features that promote or constrain plasticity allowed inference of the evolutionary history across the plasmid lineages. We uncovered epidemiological patterns that highlight the importance of plasmid transmission in pathogen diversification as well as the long-term persistence and global spread of disease.

Technical Abstract: The accelerated evolution and spread of pathogens are significant threats to host species. Agrobacteria require an gall causing plasmids, namely shorter DNA strands replicating independently of the chromosome, to transfer genes into plants and cause disease. We developed a new strategy to characterize virulence plasmids and applied it to analyze hundreds of strains collected from 1927-2017, six continents, and more than 50 host species. Our work revealed that these gall-forming plasmids are descended from a few conserved lineages. Characterization of a hierarchy of features that promote or constrain plasticity allowed inference of the evolutionary history across the plasmid lineages. We uncovered epidemiological patterns that highlight the importance of plasmid transmission in pathogen diversification as well as the long-term persistence and global spread of disease.