Repeated Gain and Loss of a Single Gene Modulates the Evolution of Vascular Plant Pathogen Lifestyles

Emile Gluck-Thaler, Aude Cerutti, Alvaro Perez-Quintero, Jules Butchacas, Veronica Roman-Reyna, Vishnu Madhavan, Deepak Shantharaj, Marcus Merfa, Celine Pesce, Alain Jauneau, Taca Vancheva, Jillian Lang, Caitilyn Allen, Valerie Verdier, Lionel Gagnevin, Boris Szurek, Gregg Beckham, Leonardo De La Fuente, Hitendra Patel, Ramesh SontiClaude Bragard, Jan Leach, Laurent Noel, Jason Slot, Ralf Koebnik, Jonathan Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus Citations


Vascular plant pathogens travel long distances through host veins, leading to life-threatening, systemic infections. In contrast, nonvascular pathogens remain restricted to infection sites, triggering localized symptom development. The contrasting features of vascular and nonvascular diseases suggest distinct etiologies, but the basis for each remains unclear. Here, we show that the hydrolase CbsA acts as a phenotypic switch between vascular and nonvascular plant pathogenesis. cbsA was enriched in genomes of vascular phytopathogenic bacteria in the family Xanthomonadaceae and absent in most nonvascular species. CbsA expression allowed nonvascular Xanthomonas to cause vascular blight, while cbsA mutagenesis resulted in reduction of vascular or enhanced nonvascular symptom development. Phylogenetic hypothesis testing further revealed that cbsA was lost in multiple nonvascular lineages and more recently gained by some vascular subgroups, suggesting that vascular pathogenesis is ancestral. Our results overall demonstrate how the gain and loss of single loci can facilitate the evolution of complex ecological traits.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbereabc4516
Number of pages10
JournalScience Advances
Issue number46
StatePublished - 13 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2A00-78230


  • CbsA
  • vascular plant pathogens
  • Xanthomonas


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