Pantoea agglomerans: a mysterious bacterium of evil and good. Part III. Deleterious effects: infections of humans, animals and plants

Marcin Golec 1,  
Department of Biological Health Hazards and Parasitology, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Department of Pneumonology, Oncology and Allergology, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
Department of Medical Biology, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2016;23(2):197–205
[i]Pantoea agglomerans[/i], a bacterium associated with plants, is not an obligate infectious agent in humans. However, it could be a cause of opportunistic human infections, mostly by wound infection with plant material, or as a hospital-acquired infection, mostly in immunocompromised individuals. Wound infection with [i]P. agglomerans[/i] usually follow piercing or laceration of skin with a plant thorn, wooden splinter or other plant material and subsequent inoculation of the plant-residing bacteria, mostly during performing of agricultural occupations and gardening, or children playing. Septic arthritis or synovitis appears as a common clinical outcome of exogenous infection with [i]P. agglomerans[/i], others include endophthalmitis, periostitis, endocarditis and osteomyelitis. Another major reason for clinical infection with [i]P. agglomerans[/i] is exposure of hospitalized, often immunodeficient individuals to medical equipment or fluids contaminated with this bacterium. Epidemics of nosocomial septicemia with fatal cases have been described in several countries, both in adult and paediatric patients. In most cases, however, the clinical course of the hospital-acquired disease was mild and application of the proper antibiotic treatment led to full recovery. Compared to humans, there are only few reports on infectious diseases caused by [i]Pantoea agglomerans[/i] in vertebrate animals. This species has been identified as a possible cause of equine abortion and placentitis and a haemorrhagic disease in dolphin fish ([i]Coryphaena hippurus[/i]). [i]P. agglomerans[/i] strains occur commonly, usually as symbionts, in insects and other arthropods. [i]Pantoea agglomerans[/i] usually occurs in plants as an epi- or endophytic symbiont, often as mutualist. Nevertheless, this species has also also been identified as a cause of diseases in a range of cultivable plants, such as cotton, sweet onion, rice, maize, sorghum, bamboo, walnut, an ornamental plant called Chinese taro ([i]Alocasia cucullata[/i]), and a grass called onion couch ([i]Arrhenatherum elatius[/i]). Some plant-pathogenic strains of [i]P. agglomerans[/i] are tumourigenic, inducing gall formation on table beet, an ornamental plant gypsophila ([i]Gypsophila paniculata[/i]), wisteria, Douglas-fir and cranberry. Recently, a [i]Pantoea[/i] species closely related to [i]P. agglomerans[/i] has been identified as a cause of bacterial blight disease in the edible mushroom [i]Pleurotus eryngii[/i] cultivated in China. The genetically governed determinants of plant pathogenicity in [i]Pantoea agglomerans[/i] include such mechanisms as the hypersensitive response and pathogenicity (hrp) system, phytohormones, the quorum-sensing (QS) feedback system and type III secretion system (T3SS) injecting the effector proteins into the cytosol of a plant cell.