Plant phenolic compounds induce expression of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens loci needed for virulence

Science  23 May 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4753, pp. 983-985
DOI: 10.1126/science.3085219


The virulence loci of Agrobacterium tumefaciens are a set of linked transcriptional units that play an essential role in the early stages of plant tumorigenesis. These loci are induced upon cocultivation of the bacteria with plant cells. Seven phenolic compounds that are widely distributed among the angiosperm plants--catechol, gallic acid, pyrogallic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, protocatechuic acid, beta-resorcylic acid, and vanillin--are able to induce the expression of the virulence loci. These phenolics in combination induce each transcriptional locus of the vir loci. Furthermore, this induction displays similar kinetics and genetic control to that observed during cocultivation of the bacteria with plant cells.