The Agrobacterium tumefaciens octopine strain B6S3 and the nopaline strain C58 were compared for their ability to induce opine synthesis on Kalanchoe daigremontiana stem fragments. Whereas B6S3 induced high levels of octopine synthesis, C58 induced only low levels of nopaline synthesis. However, C58-induced nopaline synthesis was greatly increased by mixed infection with B6S3. This effect (called "helper-effect") was shown to be due to the activity of a 5 kb fragment from the virulence region of the B6S3 Ti plasmid, since incorporation of this fragment into the C58 plasmid enabled C58 to induce high levels of nopaline synthesis in the absence of a helper strain. The 5kb region contains the vir F locus, as defined earlier (Hooykaas et al. 1984b). A possible correlation between the helper function and vir F is discussed. Our results show that large differences in virulence on particular host plants exist between natural Agrobacterium strains and can be overcome by mixed infections.
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