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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2006 May;56(2):281-91.

Decreased abundance and diversity of culturable Pseudomonas spp. populations with increasing copper exposure in the sugar beet rhizosphere.

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Genetics and Microbiology Group, Department of Ecology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


Recent studies have indicated that culturable bacteria constitute highly sensitive bioindicators of metal-induced stress in soil. We report the impact of different copper exposure levels characteristic of contaminated agricultural soils on culturable Pseudomonas spp. in the rhizosphere of sugar beet. We observed that the abundance of Pseudomonas spp. was much more severely affected than that of the general population of culturable heterotrophic bacteria by copper. For diversity assessment, Pseudomonas isolates were divided into operational taxonomic units based on amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis and genomic PCR fingerprinting by universally primed PCR. Copper significantly decreased the diversity of Pseudomonas spp. in the rhizosphere and significantly increased the frequency of copper-resistant isolates. Concomitant chemical and biological analysis of copper in the rhizosphere and in bulk soil extracts indicated no rhizosphere effect and a relatively low copper bioavailability in the studied soil, suggesting that the observed effects of copper may occur at lower total concentrations in other soils. We conclude that culturable Pseudomonas sensu stricto constitutes a highly sensitive and relevant bioindicator group for the impact of copper in the rhizosphere habitat, and suggest that continued application of copper to agricultural soils poses a significant risk to successful rhizosphere colonization by Pseudomonas spp.

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