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Identification of a diguanylate cyclase expressed in the presence of plants and its application for discovering candidate gen...

by Amber B Webb, Mang Chang, Jennifer L Morrell-falvey
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Microbial colonization of plant roots is a highly complex process that requires the coordination and regulation of many gene networks, yet the identities and functions of many of these gene products have yet to be discovered. Pantoea sp. YR343, a gamma-proteobacterium isolated from the rhizosphere of Populus deltoides, forms robust biofilms along the root surfaces of Populus and possesses plant growth-promoting characteristics. In this work, we identified three diguanylate cyclases in the plant-associated microbe Pantoea sp. YR343 that are expressed in the presence of plant roots. One of these diguanylate cyclases, DGC2884, localizes to discrete sites in the cells and its overexpression results in reduced motility and increased EPS production and biofilm formation. We performed a genetic screen by expressing this diguanylate cyclase from an inducible promoter in order to identify candidate gene products that may be involved in root colonization by Pantoea sp. YR343. Further, we demonstrate the importance of other domains in DGC2884 to its activity, which in combination with the genes identified by transposon mutagenesis, may yield insights into the mechanisms of plant association as well as the activity and regulation of homologous enzymes in medically and agriculturally relevant microbes.