Genetics of germination-arrest factor (GAF) production by Pseudomonas fluorescens WH6: Identification of a gene cluster essential for GAF biosynthesis

Anne Halgren, Maciej Maselko, Mark Azevedo, Dallice Mills, Donald Armstrong, Gary Banowetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The genetic basis of the biosynthesis of the germination-arrest factor (GAF) produced by Pseudomonas fluorescens WH6, and previously identified as 4-formylaminooxyvinylglycine, has been investigated here. In addition to inhibiting the germination of a wide range of grassy weeds, GAF exhibits a selective antimicrobial activity against the bacterial plant pathogen Erwinia amylovora. We utilized the in vitro response of E. amylovora to GAF as a rapid screen for loss-offunction GAF phenotypes generated by transposon mutagenesis. A Tn5 mutant library consisting of 6364 WH6 transformants was screened in this Erwinia assay, resulting in the identification of 18 non-redundant transposon insertion sites that led to loss of GAF production in WH6, as confirmed by TLC analysis. These insertions mapped to five different genes and four intergenic regions. Three of these genes, including two putative regulatory genes (gntR and iopB homologues), were clustered in a 13 kb chromosomal region containing 13 putative ORFs. A GAF mutation identified previously as affecting an aminotransferase also maps to this region. We suggest that three of the genes in this region (a carbamoyltransferase, an aminotransferase and a formyltransferase) encode the enzymes necessary to synthesize dihydroGAF, the putative immediate precursor of GAF in a proposed GAF biosynthetic pathway. RT-qPCR analyses demonstrated that mutations in the gntR and iopB regulatory genes, as well as in a prtR homologue identified earlier as controlling GAF formation, suppressed transcription of at least two of the putative GAF biosynthetic genes (encoding the aminotransferase and formyltransferase) located in this 13 kb region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobiology (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

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