The gram-positive plant pathogen
provokes leafy gall formation on a wide range of plants through secretion of signal molecules that interfere with the hormone balance of the host. Crucial virulence genes are located on a linear plasmid, and their expression is tightly controlled. A mutant with a mutation in a chromosomal locus that affected virulence was isolated. The mutation was located in gene
, which encodes a malate synthase and is functional in the glyoxylate shunt of the Krebs cycle. VicA is required for efficient in planta growth in symptomatic, but not in normal, plant tissue, indicating that the metabolic requirement of the bacteria or the nutritional environment in plants or both change during the interaction. We propose that induced hyperplasia on plants represents specific niches for the causative organisms as a result of physiological alterations in the symptomatic tissue. Hence, such interaction could be referred to as metabolic habitat modification.