Evidence for the key roles of the Pseudomonas syringae mobilome in shaping biotic interactions

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The mobilome, defined as the collection of mobile genetic elements within a bacterial genome, plays a critical role in the adaptation of bacteria to abiotic and biotic drivers. In particular, prophages have been reported to contribute to bacterial resistance to virulent bacteriophages, the competitive interaction of bacterial hosts within microbial communities, and in pathogenicity and virulence. It is therefore critical to better understand the role of prophages in distributing genes and functions within and among bacterial species to predict how bacteria adapt to their biotic environment. Pseudomonas syringae offers an ideal study system to ask these questions both because of its broad range of lifestyles (spanning from environmental growth to plant pathogens) and its high intraspecies diversity. To examine the role of the mobilome in this species complex, we compared 590 genomes available from public databases and annotated the defense mechanisms, effectors, and prophages in the genomes. We found that this species complex has an elaborate phage pandefensome consisting of 139 defense mechanisms. Host-associated P. syringae isolates were found to have both elaborate phage defensomes and effectoromes. Assessing taxonomical signatures of the observed prophages uncovered broad differences in the types and numbers of genes encoded by different phage families, emphasizing how the evolutionary advantages conferred to hosts will depend on the prophage composition and offering insight to how these genes might disperse within a community. Our study highlights the intimate association of phage families with their hosts and uncovers their key role in shaping ecology for this widespread species complex.

Significance statement

The bacterial accessory genome, including the mobilome and prophages, plays a critical role in shaping bacterial adaptation to abiotic and biotic drivers. These prophages are widespread across bacterial taxa and likely maintained because of their evolutionary advantage. Our ability to predict how a bacterial population will evolve over time requires a better understanding of where key functional traits arrive. To address this question, we assessed prophage-encoded phage defenses and effector across Pseudomonas syringae . We show that prophages carrying these genes belong to specific phage taxa with differences in the types of genes encoded. This emphasizes the evolutionary advantage of these prophages, offering a framework to uncover how these genes disperse within microbial communities and their role in pathogen evolution.

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