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Many Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria communicate using small diffusible signal molecules called autoinducers. This process, known as quorum sensing (QS), links cell density to the expression of genes as diverse as those associated with virulence factors production of plant and animal pathogens, bioluminescence, antibiotic production, sporulation or biofilm formation. In Gram-negative bacteria, this communication is mainly mediated by N-acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs). It has been proven that inactivation of the signal molecules attenuates many of the processes controlled by QS. Enzymatic degradation of the signal molecules has been amply described. Two main classes of AHL-inactivating enzymes were identified: AHL lactonases which hydrolyse the lactone ring in AHLs, and AHL acylases (syn. AHL amidases) which liberate a free homoserine lactone and a fatty acid. Recently, AHL oxidoreductase, a novel type of AHL inactivating enzyme, was described. The activity of these enzymes results in silencing the QS-regulated processes, as degradation products cannot act as signal molecules. The ability to inactivate AHL (quorum quenching, QQ) might be useful in controlling virulence of many pathogenic bacteria.
The Ralstonia (Pseudomonas) solanacearum bacteria cause the disease symptoms on potato, tomato, aubergine, banana and many other hosts. Since 1992 an increased number of outbrakes of potato brown rot, caused by the race 3, biovar 2 of these bacteria were reported in several EPPO member countries, including Belgium, France, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The „low-temperature" race 3 of Ralstonia solanacearum L. was found in the most infested countries in surface water and in Solanum dulcamara, the weed growing along the waterways. The origins of this disease in western Europe may include the introduction through import of infected early ware or industrial potatoes from some countries of Mediterranean area. The prevention and control strategies for this dangerous bacterial pathogen are possible only through the application of early and sure detection and identification methods. Biochemical, serological and molecular methods suitable for the diagnosis of the pathogen are described.
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