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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e55260. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055260. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Symbiotic ß-proteobacteria beyond legumes: Burkholderia in Rubiaceae.

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  • 1Plant Conservation and Population Biology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


Symbiotic ß-proteobacteria not only occur in root nodules of legumes but are also found in leaves of certain Rubiaceae. The discovery of bacteria in plants formerly not implicated in endosymbiosis suggests a wider occurrence of plant-microbe interactions. Several ß-proteobacteria of the genus Burkholderia are detected in close association with tropical plants. This interaction has occurred three times independently, which suggest a recent and open plant-bacteria association. The presence or absence of Burkholderia endophytes is consistent on genus level and therefore implies a predictive value for the discovery of bacteria. Only a single Burkholderia species is found in association with a given plant species. However, the endophyte species are promiscuous and can be found in association with several plant species. Most of the endophytes are part of the plant-associated beneficial and environmental group, but others are closely related to B. glathei. This soil bacteria, together with related nodulating and non-nodulating endophytes, is therefore transferred to a newly defined and larger PBE group within the genus Burkholderia.

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