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Front Microbiol. 2019 Nov 8;10:2531. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.02531. eCollection 2019.

Exploring Actinobacteria Associated With Rhizosphere and Endosphere of the Native Alpine Medicinal Plant Leontopodium nivale Subspecies alpinum.

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Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Division of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


The rhizosphere of plants is enriched in nutrients facilitating growth of microorganisms, some of which are recruited as endophytes. Endophytes, especially Actinobacteria, are known to produce a plethora of bioactive compounds. We hypothesized that Leontopodium nivale subsp. alpinum (Edelweiss), a rare alpine medicinal plant, may serve as yet untapped source for uncommon Actinobacteria associated with this plant. Rhizosphere soil of native Alpine plants was used, after physical and chemical pre-treatments, for isolating Actinobacteria. Isolates were selected based on morphology and identified by 16S rRNA gene-based barcoding. Resulting 77 Actinobacteria isolates represented the genera Actinokineospora, Kitasatospora, Asanoa, Microbacterium, Micromonospora, Micrococcus, Mycobacterium, Nocardia, and Streptomyces. In parallel, Edelweiss plants from the same location were surface-sterilized, separated into leaves, roots, rhizomes, and inflorescence and pooled within tissues before genomic DNA extraction. Metagenomic 16S rRNA gene amplicons confirmed large numbers of actinobacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) descending in diversity from roots to rhizomes, leaves and inflorescences. These metagenomic data, when queried with isolate sequences, revealed an overlap between the two datasets, suggesting recruitment of soil bacteria by the plant. Moreover, this study uncovered a profound diversity of uncultured Actinobacteria from Rubrobacteridae, Thermoleophilales, Acidimicrobiales and unclassified Actinobacteria specifically in belowground tissues, which may be exploited by a targeted isolation approach in the future.


Actinobacteria; Edelweiss; alpine medicinal plant; endophytes; rhizosphere

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