Elucidating essential genes in plant-associated Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 using transposon insertion sequencing

Belinda K. Fabian, Christie Foster, Amy J. Asher, Liam D. H. Elbourne, Amy K. Cain, Karl A. Hassan, Sasha G. Tetu*, Ian T. Paulsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Gene essentiality studies have been performed on numerous bacterial pathogens, but essential gene sets have been determined for only a few plant-associated bacteria. Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 is a plant-commensal, biocontrol bacterium that can control disease-causing pathogens on a wide range of crops. Work on Pf-5 has mostly focused on secondary metabolism and biocontrol genes, but genome-wide approaches such as high-throughput transposon mutagenesis have not yet been used for this species. In this study, we generated a dense P. protegens Pf-5 transposon mutant library and used transposon-directed insertion site sequencing (TraDIS) to identify 446 genes essential for growth on rich media. Genes required for fundamental cellular machinery were enriched in the essential gene set, while genes related to nutrient biosynthesis, stress responses, and transport were underrepresented. The majority of Pf-5 essential genes were part of the P. protegens core genome. Comparison of the essential gene set of Pf-5 with those of two plant-associated pseudomonads, P. simiae and P. syringae, and the well-studied opportunistic human pathogen P. aeruginosa PA14 showed that the four species share a large number of essential genes, but each species also had uniquely essential genes. Comparison of the Pf-5 in silico-predicted and in vitro-determined essential gene sets highlighted the essential cellular functions that are over- and underestimated by each method. Expanding essentiality studies into bacteria with a range of lifestyles may improve our understanding of the biological processes important for bacterial survival and growth.

    IMPORTANCE: Essential genes are those crucial for survival or normal growth rates in an organism. Essential gene sets have been identified in numerous bacterial pathogens but only a few plant-associated bacteria. Employing genome-wide approaches, such as transposon insertion sequencing, allows for the concurrent analyses of all genes of a bacterial species and rapid determination of essential gene sets. We have used transposon insertion sequencing to systematically analyze thousands of Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 genes and gain insights into gene functions and interactions that are not readily available using traditional methods. Comparing Pf-5 essential genes with those of three other pseudomonads highlights how gene essentiality varies between closely related species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere00432-20
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Bacteriology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


    • gene essentiality
    • genome-wide analysis
    • in silico essential genes
    • plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria
    • rhizosphere
    • TraDIS
    • transposon mutagenesis
    • Transposon mutagenesis
    • Gene essentiality
    • Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria
    • Rhizosphere
    • In silico essential genes
    • Genome-wide analysis


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