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In search of the weak point of the infectious agent Ralstonia solanacearum

In search of the weak point of the infectious agent Ralstonia solanacearum
© R. Peyraud
In an article published in January 29, 2018 in the Nature Communications journal, Rémi Peyraud, Ludovic Cottret, Lucas Marmiesse and Stéphane Genin (LIPM) are interested in the modalities of determination by a metabolic network of the robustness of biological functions in a plant pathogen . Financed in 2012 by a TULIP New Frontiers project, an EMBO funding, and the INRA SPE department, their work is based on the modeling of the regulatory network controlling virulence and the metabolic network of Ralstonia solanacearum. These results open new path to identify targets in the fight against this pathogen and they reveal the importance of robustness in the evolution of pathogenicity.


Robustness is a key system-level property of living organisms to maintain their functions while tolerating perturbations. We investigate here how a regulatory network controlling multiple virulence factors impacts phenotypic robustness of a bacterial plant pathogen. We reconstruct a cell-scale model of Ralstonia solanacearum connecting a genome-scale metabolic network [ndlr: a reconstruction of the metabolic network which we had already mentioned in a previous TULIP Highlight], a virulence macromolecule network, and a virulence regulatory network, which includes 63 regulatory components. We develop in silico methods to quantify phenotypic robustness under a broad set of conditions in high-throughput simulation analyses. This approach reveals that the virulence regulatory network exerts a control of the primary metabolism to promote robustness upon infection. The virulence regulatory network plugs into the primary metabolism mainly through the control of genes likely acquired via horizontal gene transfer, which results in a functional overlay with ancestral genes. These results support the view that robustness may be a selected trait that promotes pathogenic fitness upon infection.

See also

Rémi Peyraud & al. Control of primary metabolism by a virulence regulatory network promotes robustness in a plant pathogen. Nat. Comm. (2018). DOI:10.1038/s41467-017-02660-4.