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The sss Colonization Gene of the Tomato-Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici Biocontrol Strain Pseudomonas fluorescens WCS365 Can Improve Root Colonization of Other Wild-type Pseudomonas spp. Bacteria

November 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  11
Pages  1,177 - 1,183

Linda C. Dekkers , Ine H. M. Mulders , Claartje C. Phoelich , Thomas F. C. Chin-A-Woeng , André H. M. Wijfjes , and Ben J. J. Lugtenberg

Leiden University, Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Clusius Laboratory, Wassenaarseweg 64, Leiden 2333AL, The Netherlands

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Accepted 16 June 2000.

We show that the disease tomato foot and root rot caused by the pathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycopersici can be controlled by inoculation of seeds with cells of the efficient root colonizer Pseudomonas fluorescens WCS365, indicating that strain WCS365 is a bio-control strain. The mechanism for disease suppression most likely is induced systemic resistance. P. fluorescens strain WCS365 and P. chlororaphis strain PCL1391, which acts through the production of the antibiotic phenazine-1-carboxamide, were differentially labeled using genes encoding autofluorescent proteins. Inoculation of seeds with a 1:1 mixture of these strains showed that, at the upper part of the root, the two cell types were present as microcolonies of either one or both cell types. Microcolonies at the lower root part were predominantly of one cell type. Mixed inoculation tended to improve biocontrol in comparison with single inoculations. In contrast to what was observed previously for strain PCL1391, mutations in various colonization genes, including sss, did not consistently decrease the biocontrol ability of strain WCS365. Multiple copies of the sss colonization gene in WCS365 improved neither colonization nor biocontrol by this strain. However, introduction of the sss-containing DNA fragment into the poor colonizer P. fluorescens WCS307 and into the good colonizer P. fluorescens F113 increased the competitive tomato root tip colonization ability of the latter strains 16- to 40-fold and 8- to 16-fold, respectively. These results show that improvement of the colonization ability of wild-type Pseudomonas strains by genetic engineering is a realistic goal.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society