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Convergent Rewiring of the Virulence Regulatory Network Promotes Adaptation of Ralstonia solanacearum on Resistant Tomato

Abstract : Abstract The evolutionary and adaptive potential of a pathogen is a key determinant for successful host colonization and proliferation but remains poorly known for most of the pathogens. Here, we used experimental evolution combined with phenotyping, genomics, and transcriptomics to estimate the adaptive potential of the bacterial plant pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum to overcome the quantitative resistance of the tomato cultivar Hawaii 7996. After serial passaging over 300 generations, we observed pathogen adaptation to within-plant environment of the resistant cultivar but no plant resistance breakdown. Genomic sequence analysis of the adapted clones revealed few genetic alterations, but we provide evidence that all but one were gain of function mutations. Transcriptomic analyses revealed that even if different adaptive events occurred in independently evolved clones, there is convergence toward a global rewiring of the virulence regulatory network as evidenced by largely overlapping gene expression profiles. A subset of four transcription regulators, including HrpB, the activator of the type 3 secretion system regulon and EfpR, a global regulator of virulence and metabolic functions, emerged as key nodes of this regulatory network that are frequently targeted to redirect the pathogen’s physiology and improve its fitness in adverse conditions. Significant transcriptomic variations were also detected in evolved clones showing no genomic polymorphism, suggesting that epigenetic modifications regulate expression of some of the virulence network components and play a major role in adaptation as well.
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Submitted on : Monday, August 30, 2021 - 3:16:59 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - 6:30:03 PM

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Rekha Gopalan-Nair, Marie-Françoise Jardinaud, Ludovic Legrand, David Landry, Xavier Barlet, et al.. Convergent Rewiring of the Virulence Regulatory Network Promotes Adaptation of Ralstonia solanacearum on Resistant Tomato. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021, 38 (5), pp.1792-1808. ⟨10.1093/molbev/msaa320⟩. ⟨hal-03328995⟩

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