Understanding How Three Kiwifruit Bacterial Strains Cause Disease

Jenn Hoskins
14th May, 2024

Understanding How Three Kiwifruit Bacterial Strains Cause Disease

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In China, one kiwifruit pathogen strain (QSY6) is more harmful than others
  • QSY6 has unique genes linked to its ability to infect and damage kiwifruit plants
  • Understanding these genes helps develop strategies to protect kiwifruits from disease
In the world of agriculture, the health and productivity of crops are paramount. One such threat to crop health is the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa), which has caused significant damage to the kiwifruit industry by inducing a disease known as kiwifruit bacterial canker. This disease not only impairs fruit quality but can also result in the death of kiwifruit vines, leading to substantial economic losses globally. Researchers from Anhui Agricultural University have taken a closer look at this destructive pathogen by examining three Psa strains from different kiwifruit orchards in Anhui Province, China[1]. Their study aimed to understand the variations in virulence—the degree of damage a pathogen can cause—and to identify specific genetic characteristics that could be linked to the pathogen's destructive capabilities. Through pathogenicity assays, which are tests to determine how harmful a pathogen is to a host plant, one of the strains, named QSY6, was found to be more virulent than the other two strains, JZY2 and YXH1. This means that QSY6 has a greater ability to cause disease in kiwifruit plants. To uncover the genetic basis for this increased virulence, the researchers sequenced the complete genomes of the three strains. The genomic analyses revealed that each strain had a circular chromosome and a plasmid—a small DNA molecule within a cell that is physically separated from chromosomal DNA. The chromosomes were similar in size, and the number of genes they contained was in the same ballpark. When comparing these strains to other known strains, the three were closely related to eight reference strains of Psa biovar 3, yet they were distinct from other biovars such as Psa1 and Psa5. One of the key findings of this study was the variation in the type III secretion system (T3SS) effectors among the 15 strains analyzed. The T3SS is a needle-like structure bacteria use to inject proteins, known as effectors, into host cells to manipulate them and promote infection. The variations in these effectors could explain differences in how the strains interact with their host plants. Furthermore, the highly virulent strain QSY6 had unique genomic regions that were not present in the less virulent strains. These regions contained 308 genes, including 16 that were associated with virulence. Among these were genes responsible for the delivery of effectors and for adherence to plant cells, which are critical for the pathogen's ability to infect and cause disease. The study by Anhui Agricultural University builds upon previous research that has sought to understand and combat Psa. For example, earlier studies have highlighted the importance of identifying biocontrol agents that can protect plants from Psa infection[2], as well as the need for specific molecular tools to detect different biovars of Psa[3][4]. Moreover, the value of whole-genome sequencing as a tool for pathogen identification and understanding disease epidemiology has been emphasized[5]. The current research not only adds to the understanding of Psa's virulence but also provides a theoretical foundation for identifying potential pathogenic factors responsible for kiwifruit bacterial canker. This knowledge is crucial for developing strategies to prevent and control the disease, which could include breeding kiwifruit varieties with resistance to more virulent strains like QSY6 or designing targeted treatments that disrupt the pathogen's ability to infect host plants. Ultimately, studies like this one are essential for safeguarding the kiwifruit industry and ensuring the stability of food production systems. By uncovering the genetic underpinnings of pathogen virulence, scientists and growers can work together to keep crops healthy and productive in the face of bacterial threats.

BiotechGeneticsPlant Science


Main Study

1) Comparative genomic analyses provide insight into the pathogenicity of three Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae strains from Anhui Province, China.

Published 11th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Adapting the inoculation methods of kiwifruit canker disease to identify efficient biocontrol bacteria from branch microbiome.


3) Genome analysis of the kiwifruit canker pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae biovar 5.


4) Genome analysis of Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae biovar 6, which produces the phytotoxins, phaseolotoxin and coronatine.


5) Practical benefits of knowing the enemy: modern molecular tools for diagnosing the etiology of bacterial diseases and understanding the taxonomy and diversity of plant-pathogenic bacteria.


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