Even in closely related species, lifestyle molds the genetic makeup of pathogens and how their genes are used.
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Sara Thomas (Plantwise) sais that the potential applications of this idea are truly fascinating.
A new study by Chernin et al. has found that volatile organic compounds produced by certain Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) can disrupt bacterial cell-cell communication (quorum sensing) in a number of plant pathogens. These volatile compounds can reduce the signal molecules of pathogens (E. g. volatile organic compounds produced by strains of Pseudomonas fluorescens and Serratia plymuthica can disrupt quorum sensing in a number of plant pathogens including Agrobacterium, Chromobacterium, Pectobacterium and Pseudomonas). Since PGPRs are used as agricultural inputs in many crops, ‘quorum-quenching’ could serve as a new disease management strategy.
The potential of this tool was further broadened when Gadoury et al., suggested a similar quorum-sensing mechanism to exist in the grape powdery mildew pathogen Erysiphe necator. The authors indicate that production of spores (conidia) is triggered only after the fungus has grown some amount of mycelium and suggested the role of quorum sensing in triggering this conidiation. This is the first suggestion of quorum-sensing in fungal plant pathogens.
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