Pierce's Disease
Research Updates


What is Pierce's Disease?

Pierce's Disease is a bacterial infection, which is spread by bugs that feed on grapevines, particularly the "glassy winged sharpshooter." Grapevines that become infected with PD can quickly become sick and die.

glassy-winged sharpshooter

A new type IV secretion system promotes conjugal transfer in Agrobacterium tumefaciens

  • Author(s): Chen, Lishan; Chen, Yuching; Nester, Eugene; Wood, Derek;
  • Abstract: Two DNA transfer systems encoded by the tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid have been previously identified in Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The virB operon is required for the transfer of transferred DNA to the plant host, and the trb system encodes functions required for the conjugal transfer of the Ti plasmid between cells of Agrobacterium. Recent availability of the genome sequence of Agrobacterium allowed us to identify a third system that is most similar to the VirB type IV secretion system of Bartonella henselae. We have designated this system avhB for Agrobacterium virulence homologue virB. The avhB loci reside on pAtC58 and encode at least 10 proteins (AvhB2 through AvhB11), 7 of which display significant similarity to the corresponding virulence-associated VirB proteins of the Ti plasmid. However, the AvhB system is not required for tumor formation; rather, it mediates the conjugal transfer of the pAtC58 cryptic plasmid between cells of Agrobacterium. This transfer occurs in the absence of the Ti plasmid-encoded VirB and Trb systems. Like the VirB system, AvhB products promote the conjugal transfer of the IncQ plasmid RSF1010, suggesting that these products comprise a mating-pair formation system. The presence of plasmid TiC58 or plasmid RSF1010 reduces the conjugal transfer efficiency of pAtC58 10- or 1,000-fold, respectively. These data suggest that complex substrate interactions exist among the three DNA transfer systems of Agrobacterium.
  • Publication Date: Feb 2002
  • Journal: Journal Of Bacteriology