Research Groups

Bacteriology and Strains4Plants

Research Interests and Description

Group Leader: Vittorio Venturi, PhD

Group Members

Research Interests

Bacterial cell-cell communication in plant associated bacteria.

Description of Research

The Bacteriology Group is now focusing its interests (i) on the formation and stability of bacterial multispecies communities, both natural and synthetic (ii) on the interkingdom signaling between plants and plant associated bacteria and (iii) on the role of signaling in emerging bacterial plant pathogens and plant beneficial bacteria.
Recent studies have shown that bacteria most commonly live in the wild as part of complex communities, raising many questions as to how these communities are formed and what makes them stable. In order to obtain insights into the interactions taking place in multispecies bacterial communities, the role of cell-cell signaling via quorum sensing signals molecules is being investigated.  In addition, creation/generation of synthetic multispecies communities is another approach being used in order to determine the possible importance in signaling in their formation and stability. Our working models for studying the role of signaling in multispecies communities are N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs), which, to date, are the most commonly used quorum sensing signals. The model that we use to study multispecies communities in the wild is the olive-knot disease caused by the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas savastanoi. We have demonstrated that Pseudomonas savastanoi establishes a consortium with the bacterial non-pathogenic resident Erwinia toletana. Both bacteria benefit from this interspecies community leading to a more aggressive disease. Mechanisms of interspecies signaling and establishment of this stable multispecies community both in vivo and in vitro are being studied.
The mechanism of plant-bacteria inter-kingdom signaling involving plant signals and a novel subfamily of LuxR bacterial proteins present in plant associated bacteria is being investigated. Our studies have previously identified a new LuxR family, closely related to the quorum sensing LuxR-family, which binds a plant signal compound and regulates target gene transcription in several plant associated bacteria. Current interests are focused on identifying the plant signal compound(s) and determination of the role of this interkingdom signaling circuit in vivo.
We are also interested in the type and role of quorum sensing gene regulation in (i) emerging plant bacterial pathogens such as Pseudomonas fuscovaginae, Pseudomonas actinidiae and Dickeya zeae and (ii) plant associated beneficial endophytes especially of the Burkholderia genus.

Recent Publications

Bertani, I., Abbruscato, P., Piffanelli, P., Subramoni, S., Venturi, V. 2016. Rice bacterial endophytes: isolation of a collection, identification of beneficial strains and microbiome analysis. Environ Microbiol Rep. 8(3): p. 388-98. Pub Med link

Venturi, V., Keel, C. Signaling in the rhizosphere. 2016. Trends Plant Sci. 21: p. 187-198. PubMed link

Lamichhane, J.R., Venturi, V. 2015. Synergisms between microbial pathogens in plant disease complexes: a growing trend. Front Plant Sci. 6: p. 385. PubMed link

Coutinho, B. G., Licastro, D., Mendonca-Previato, L., Camara, M., Venturi, V. 2015. Plant-Influenced Gene Expression in the Rice Endophyte Burkholderia kururiensis M130. Mol Plant Microbe Interact 28(1): 10-21. PubMed link

Passos da Silva, D., M. P. Castaneda-Ojeda, Moretti, C., Buonaurio, R.,  Ramos, C., Venturi, V. 2014. Bacterial multispecies studies and microbiome analysis of a plant disease. Microbiology 160(Pt 3): 556-566. PubMed link

Venturi, V. Fuqua, C. 2013. Chemical signaling between plants and plant-pathogenic bacteria. Annu Rev Phytopathol 51: 17-37. PubMed link

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