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Plant pathogenic pseudomonads such as Pseudomonas syringae colonize plant surfaces and tissues and have been reported to be nutritionally specialized relative to nonpathogenic pseudomonads. We performed comparative analyses of metabolic networks reconstructed from genome sequence data in order to investigate the hypothesis that P. syringae has evolved to be metabolically specialized for a plant pathogenic lifestyle. We used the metabolic network comparison tool Rahnuma and complementary bioinformatic analyses to compare the distribution of 1,299 metabolic reactions across nine genome-sequenced strains of Pseudomonas, including three strains of P. syringae. The two pathogenic Pseudomonas species analyzed, P. syringae and the opportunistic human pathogen P. aeruginosa, each displayed a high level of intraspecies metabolic similarity compared with nonpathogenic Pseudomonas. The three P. syringae strains lacked a significant number of reactions predicted to be present in all other Pseudomonas strains analyzed, which is consistent with the hypothesis that P. syringae is adapted for growth in a nutritionally constrained environment. Pathway predictions demonstrated that some of the differences detected in metabolic network comparisons could account for differences in amino acid assimilation ability reported in experimental analyses. Parsimony analysis and reaction neighborhood approaches were used to model the evolution of metabolic networks and amino acid assimilation pathways in pseudomonads. Both methods supported a model of Pseudomonas evolution in which the common ancestor of P. syringae had experienced a significant number of deletion events relative to other nonpathogenic pseudomonads. We discuss how the characteristic metabolic features of P. syringae could reflect adaptation to a pathogenic lifestyle.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Biol Evol

Publication Date





483 - 499


Algorithms, Amino Acid Sequence, Amino Acids, Bacterial Proteins, Base Sequence, Biological Evolution, Computational Biology, DNA, Bacterial, Humans, Metabolic Networks and Pathways, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Plants, Pseudomonas, Software