The foliar pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 (Pst) leads to consistent losses in tomato crops, urging to multiply investigations on the physiological bases for its infectiveness. As other P. syringae pathovars, Pst is equipped with photoreceptors for blue and red light, mimicking the photosensing ability of host plants. In this work we have investigated Pst strains lacking the genes for a blue-light sensing protein (PstLOV), for a bacteriophytochrome (PstBph1) or for hemeoxygenase- 1. When grown in culturing medium, all deletion mutants presented a larger growth than wildtype (WT) Pst under all other light conditions, with the exception of blue light which, under our experimental conditions (photon fluence rate = 40 mol m−2 s−1), completely suppressed the growth of the deletion mutants. Each of the knockout mutants shows stronger virulence towards Arabidopsis thaliana than PstWT, as evidenced by macroscopic damages in the host tissues of infected leaves. Mutated bacteria were also identified in districts distant from the infection site using scanning electron microscopy. These results underscore the importance of Pst photoreceptors in responding to environmental light inputs and the partial protective role that they exert towards host plants during infection, diminishing virulence and invasiveness.
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