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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2013 May;26(5):495-502. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-12-12-0298-R.

Unexpected phytostimulatory behavior for Escherichia coli and Agrobacterium tumefaciens model strains.

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Universite de Lyon, Lyon, France.


Plant-beneficial effects of bacteria are often underestimated, especially for well-studied strains associated with pathogenicity or originating from other environments. We assessed the impact of seed inoculation with the emblematic bacterial models Agrobacterium tumefaciens C58 (plasmid-cured) or Escherichia coli K-12 on maize seedlings in nonsterile soil. Compared with the noninoculated control, root biomass (with A. tumefaciens or E. coli) and shoot biomass (with A. tumefaciens) were enhanced at 10 days for 'PR37Y15' but not 'DK315', as found with the phytostimulator Azospirillum brasilense UAP-154 (positive control). In roots as well as in shoots, Agrobacterium tumefaciens and E. coli triggered similar (in PR37Y15) or different (in DK315) changes in the high-performance liquid chromatography profiles of secondary metabolites (especially benzoxazinoids), distinct from those of Azospirillum brasilense UAP-154. Genome sequence analysis revealed homologs of nitrite reductase genes nirK and nirBD and siderophore synthesis genes for Agrobacterium tumefaciens, as well as homologs of nitrite reductase genes nirBD and phosphatase genes phoA and appA in E. coli, whose contribution to phytostimulation will require experimental assessment. In conclusion, the two emblematic bacterial models had a systemic impact on maize secondary metabolism and resulted in unexpected phytostimulation of seedlings in the Azospirillum sp.-responsive cultivar.

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