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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Jun;68(6):2637-43.

Protection of tomato seedlings against infection by Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato by using the plant growth-promoting bacterium Azospirillum brasilense.

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  • 1Environmental Microbiology, The Center for Biological Research of the Northwest, La Paz, Mexico.


Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato, the causal agent of bacterial speck of tomato, and the plant growth-promoting bacterium Azospirillum brasilense were inoculated onto tomato plants, either alone, as a mixed culture, or consecutively. The population dynamics in the rhizosphere and foliage, the development of bacterial speck disease, and their effects on plant growth were monitored. When inoculated onto separate plants, the A. brasilense population in the rhizosphere of tomato plants was 2 orders of magnitude greater than the population of P. syringae pv. tomato (10(7) versus 10(5) CFU/g [dry weight] of root). Under mist chamber conditions, the leaf population of P. syringae pv. tomato was 1 order of magnitude greater than that of A. brasilense (10(7) versus 10(6) CFU/g [dry weight] of leaf). Inoculation of seeds with a mixed culture of the two bacterial strains resulted in a reduction of the pathogen population in the rhizosphere, an increase in the A. brasilense population, the prevention of bacterial speck disease development, and improved plant growth. Inoculation of leaves with the mixed bacterial culture under mist conditions significantly reduced the P. syringae pv. tomato population and significantly decreased disease severity. Challenge with P. syringae pv. tomato after A. brasilense was established in the leaves further reduced both the population of P. syringae pv. tomato and disease severity and significantly enhanced plant development. Both bacteria maintained a large population in the rhizosphere for 45 days when each was inoculated separately onto tomato seeds (10(5) to 10(6) CFU/g [dry weight] of root). However, P. syringae pv. tomato did not survive in the rhizosphere in the presence of A. brasilense. Foliar inoculation of A. brasilense after P. syringae pv. tomato was established on the leaves did not alleviate bacterial speck disease, and A. brasilense did not survive well in the phyllosphere under these conditions, even in a mist chamber. Several applications of a low concentration of buffered malic acid significantly enhanced the leaf population of A. brasilense (>10(8) CFU/g [dry weight] of leaf), decreased the population of P. syringae pv. tomato to almost undetectable levels, almost eliminated disease development, and improved plant growth to the level of uninoculated healthy control plants. Based on our results, we propose that A. brasilense be used in prevention programs to combat the foliar bacterial speck disease caused by P. syringae pv. tomato.

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