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A Successful Bacterial Coup D'État: How Rhodococcus Fascians Redirects Plant Development

Elisabeth Stes, Olivier M. Vandeputte, Mondher El Jaziri, Marcelle Holsters, Danny Vereecke

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Rhodococcus fascians is a gram-positive phytopathogen that induces differentiated galls, known as leafy galls, on a wide variety of plants, employing virulence genes located on a linear plasmid. The pathogenic strategy consists of the production of a mixture of six synergistically acting cytokinins that overwhelm the plant's homeostatic mechanisms, ensuring the activation of a signaling cascade that targets the plant cell cycle and directs the newly formed cells to differentiate into shoot meristems. The shoots that are formed upon infection remain immature and never convert to source tissues resulting in the establishment of a nutrient sink that is a niche for the epiphytic and endophytic R. fascians subpopulations. Niche formation is accompanied by modifications of the transcriptome, metabolome, physiology, and morphology of both host and pathogen. Here, we review a decade of research and set the outlines of the molecular basis of the leafy gall syndrome.