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Characterization of the bacterial actin homologue mreB in Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri

Grant number: 17/08856-2
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2017
Effective date (End): February 28, 2019
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy
Principal Investigator:Henrique Ferreira
Grantee:Camila Malvessi Pereira
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri (X. citri) is the etiological agent of Citrus canker, a widespread plant disease that attacks all varieties of commercial citrus plants, causing economic loss worldwide. The best known method to control this disease is eradication, which consists in eliminating symptomatic and asymptomatic trees from orchards. However, in endemic areas, citrus canker is controlled by the application of cupric bactericides, less susceptible plants and windshields. Alternative compounds to control this pathogen are desirable, since copper based bactericides have negative environmental impact and induce resistance in X. citri. Our group has recently proposed an alternative chemical compound that can eliminate X. citri by disrupting an essential cellular process. An important step for the discovery and evaluation of new compounds to control X. citri is the characterization of genes/proteins that are potential targets. The mreB genes code for proteins that are bacterial actin homologues with a key role in cell morphogenesis. These genes were characterized in some bacteria, in which they were shown to be essential. There are no reports of characterization of mreB in X. citri. MreB and actin have a weak sequence similarity, despite being functional homologues. These characteristics make MreB an interesting target for new antibacterial chemical compounds. The objective of this project is to study the function and localization of MreB in X. citri. This will be done by the knockout of the mreB gene or protein depletion, followed by observation of cellular morphology. We also intend to investigate its subcellular localization and to test the pathogenicity and virulence of the mutant strains in planta. Results of this project will increase the knowledge of the biology of X. citri and also be useful to the evaluation of new chemical compounds to control citrus canker.