Tn5 mutagenesis was used to generate an Azospirillum brasilense SPF94 mutant. Genetic analysis of this mutant revealed that a homologue of the mreB gene, which controls cell shape in Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli, was inactivated. The cell-surface properties of the mutant were different from those of the parental strain. The mutant colonies were highly fluorescent when grown on plates containing Calcofluor White. Light and electron microscopy revealed that the mutant cells were round and had thicker capsules than the spiral parental strain. The mutants contained up to ten times more capsule protein than the parental strain, but lacked a 40 kDa protein that is abundant in the parental strain. The phenotype of the isolated mutant resembled that of the cyst-like differentiated forms of Azospirillum, suggesting that the mreB homologue could be involved in differentiation.
Botrytis cinerea, an important fungal plant pathogen, secretes aspartic proteinase (AP) activity in axenic cultures. No cysteine, serine or metalloproteinase activity could be detected. Proteinase activity was higher in culture medium containing BSA or wheat germ extract, as compared to minimal medium. A proportion of the enzyme activity remained in the extracellular glucan sheath. AP was also the only type of proteinase activity in fluid obtained from B. cinerea-infected tissue of apple, pepper, tomato and zucchini. Five B. cinerea genes encoding an AP were cloned and denoted Bcap1–5. Features of the encoded proteins are discussed. BcAP1, especially, has novel characteristics. A phylogenetic analysis was performed comprising sequences originating from different kingdoms. BcAP1 and BcAP5 did not cluster in a bootstrap-supported clade. BcAP2 clusters with vacuolar APs. BcAP3 and BcAP4 cluster with secreted APs in a clade that also contains glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteinases from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans. All five Bcap genes are expressed in liquid cultures. Transcript levels of Bcap1, Bcap2, Bcap3 and Bcap4 are subject to glucose and peptone repression. Transcripts from all five Bcap genes were detected in infected plant tissue, indicating that at least part of the AP activity in planta originates from the pathogen.