R-tailocins are high-molecular-weight bacteriocins resembling bacteriophage tails. Pseudomonas chlororaphis 30-84 is a plant growth-promoting rhizobacterial (PGPR) strain that produces two distinct R-tailocin particles with different killing spectra. The two R-tailocins have different evolutionary histories but are released by the same lysis cassette. A previous study showed that both tailocins are important for pairwise competition with susceptible rhizosphere-colonizing strains; however, the broader role of tailocins in competition with the native rhizosphere microbiome was not tested. Genomic analysis of the P. chlororaphis 30-84 R-tailocin gene cluster uncovered the presence of three tail fiber genes in the tailocin 2 genetic module that could potentially result in tailocin 2 particles having different tail fibers and thus a wider killing spectrum. In this study, the tail fibers were found to incorporate onto different tailocin 2 particles, each with a distinct killing spectrum. A loss of production of one or both tailocins resulted in decreased P. chlororaphis 30-84 persistence within the wheat rhizosphere when in competition with the native microflora but not bulk soil. The capacity to produce three different versions of a single tailocin, each having one of three different types of tail fibers, is a previously unreported mechanism that leads to a broader R-tailocin killing spectrum. This study also provides evidence for the function of R-tailocins in competition with rhizosphere microbiome communities but not in bulk soil.IMPORTANCE Although R-tailocin gene clusters typically encode one tail fiber protein, three tail fiber-resembling genes were identified in association with one of the two sets of R-tailocin genes within the tailocin cluster of P. chlororaphis 30-84 and other sequenced P. chlororaphis strain genomes. This study confirmed that P. chlororaphis 30-84 not only produces two distinct tailocins, but that one of them is produced with three different types of tail fibers. This is a previously unreported strategy to increase the breadth of strains targeted by an R-tailocin. Our finding that R-tailocins produced by a PGPR Pseudomonas strain enhanced its persistence within the wheat rhizosphere microbiome confirms that R-tailocin production contributes to the population dynamics of rhizobacterial communities.
- Bacterial EcologyPhage Tail-like BacteriocinsR-tailocins