, Volume 47, Issue 8, pp 791-803

Implications of toxins in the ecology and evolution of plant pathogenic microorganisms: Bacteria

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This review attempts to rationalise what is known about bacterial phytotoxins and associate it with the ecology and possible evolution of the producing organisms. Study of non-toxin producing variants gives insight into the ecological role of the toxin. Elucidation of chemical structures of phytotoxins has shown that many exist as families of analogous compounds. Studies on the variation of chemical structures and how they are distributed across species and genera can lead to development of hypotheses on evolutionary relationships. Knowledge on biosynthetic pathways to tosins allows recognition of specific enzymatic steps involved in developing the characteristic features of the structures. Phytotoxins often have a potent biochemical activity, and in some cases the producing organism has associated mechanisms to prevent action of the toxin upon itself; in such cases toxigenesis is clearly not a chance event. The various aspects of bacterial toxigenesis indicate that bacterial phytotoxins are special secondary metabolic products that play beneficial roles to the producing organisms in their various ecological niches.