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Pseudomonas putida Strain PCL1444, Selected for Efficient Root Colonization and Naphthalene Degradation, Effectively Utilizes Root Exudate Components

July 2002 , Volume 15 , Number  7
Pages  734 - 741

Irene Kuiper , 1 Lev V. Kravchenko , 2 Guido V. Bloemberg , 1 and Ben J. J. Lugtenberg 1

1Leiden University, Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Clusius Laboratory, Wassenaarseweg 64, 2333 AL Leiden, The Netherlands; 2All-Russia Research Institute for Agricultural Microbiology, Podbelsky Shossee 3, Puskin 8, St Petersburg, 189620, Russian Federation

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Accepted 23 March 2002.

Previously, we have described the selection of a plant-bacterium pair that is efficient in rhizoremediating naphthalene pollution in microcosm studies. After repeated selection for efficient root tip colonization upon inoculation of seeds of grass cv. Barmultra and for stable and efficient growth on naphthalene, Pseudomonas putida PCL1444 was selected as the most efficient colonizer of Barmultra roots. Here, we report the analysis of Barmultra root exudate composition and our subsequent tests of the growth rate of the bacterium and of the expression of the naphthalene degradation genes on individual exudate components. High performance liquid chromatography analysis of the organic acid and sugar root-exudate components revealed that glucose and fructose are the most abundant sugars, whereas succinic acid and citric acid are the most abundant organic acids. Tn5luxAB mutants of PCL1444 impaired in naphthalene degradation appeared to be impaired in genes homologous to genes of the upper naphthalene degradation pathway present in various Pseudomonas strains and to genes of the lower pathway genes for naphthalene degradation in P. stutzeri. Highest expression for both pathways involved in naphthalene degradation during growth in minimal medium with the carbon source to be tested was observed at the start of the logarithmic phase. Naphthalene did not induce the upper pathway, but a different pattern of expression was observed in the lower pathway reporter, probably due to the conversion of naphthalene to salicylic acid. Salicylic acid, which is described as an intermediate of the naphthalene degradation pathway in many Pseudomonas strains, did induce both pathways, resulting in an up to sixfold higher expression level at the start of the logarithmic phase. When expression levels during growth on the different carbon sources present in root exudate were compared, highest expression was observed on the two major root exudate components, glucose and succinic acid. These results show an excellent correlation between successful naphthalene rhizoremediation by the Barmultra-P. putida PCL1444 pair and both efficient utilization of the major exudate components for growth and high transcription of the naphthalene catabolic genes on the major exudate components. Therefore, we hypothesize that efficient root colonizing and naphthalene degradation is the result of the applied colonization enrichment procedure.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society