Among 82 epiphytic fitness mutants of a Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae strain that were characterized in a previous study, 4 mutants were particularly intolerant of the stresses associated with dry leaf surfaces. These four mutants each exhibited distinctive behaviors when inoculated onto and into plant leaves. For example, while none showed measurable growth on dry potato leaf surfaces, they grew to different population sizes in the intercellular spaces of bean leaves and on dry bean leaf surfaces, and one mutant appeared incapable of growth in both environments although it grew well on moist bean leaves. The presence of the parental strain did not influence the survival of the mutants immediately following exposure of leaves to dry, high-light incubation conditions, suggesting that the reduced survival of the mutants did not result from an inability to produce extracellular factors in planta. On moist bean leaves that were colonized by either a mutant or the wild type, the proportion of the total epiphytic population that was located in sites protected from a surface sterilant was smaller for the mutants than for the wild type, indicating that the mutants were reduced in their ability to locate, multiply in, and/or survive in such protected sites. This reduced ability was only one of possibly several factors contributing to the reduced epiphytic fitness of each mutant. Their reduced fitness was not specific to the host plant bean, since they also exhibited reduced fitness on the nonhost plant potato; the functions altered in these strains are thus of interest for their contribution to the general fitness of bacterial epiphytes
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