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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33800. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033800. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Practical application of methanol-mediated mutualistic symbiosis between Methylobacterium species and a roof greening moss, Racomitrium japonicum.

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Institute of Plant Science and Resources, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan.


Bryophytes, or mosses, are considered the most maintenance-free materials for roof greening. Racomitrium species are most often used due to their high tolerance to desiccation. Because they grow slowly, a technology for forcing their growth is desired. We succeeded in the efficient production of R. japonicum in liquid culture. The structure of the microbial community is crucial to stabilize the culture. A culture-independent technique revealed that the cultures contain methylotrophic bacteria. Using yeast cells that fluoresce in the presence of methanol, methanol emission from the moss was confirmed, suggesting that it is an important carbon and energy source for the bacteria. We isolated Methylobacterium species from the liquid culture and studied their characteristics. The isolates were able to strongly promote the growth of some mosses including R. japonicum and seed plants, but the plant-microbe combination was important, since growth promotion was not uniform across species. One of the isolates, strain 22A, was cultivated with R. japonicum in liquid culture and in a field experiment, resulting in strong growth promotion. Mutualistic symbiosis can thus be utilized for industrial moss production.

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