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Engineering Bacterial Competitiveness and Persistence in the Phytosphere

September 2002 , Volume 15 , Number  9
Pages  866 - 874

Michael A. Savka , 1 Yves Dessaux , 2 Phil Oger , 2 , 3 and Silvia Rossbach 4

1Department of Biological Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, U.S.A.; 2Institut des Sciences du Végétal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Bâtiment 23, F-91198, Gif-sur-Yvette, France; 3Laboratoire de Sciences de la Terre, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon, France; and 4Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, U.S.A.

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Accepted 17 May 2002.

Several tactics exist to improve the survival of an introduced microorganism of interest in the plant environment. One, derived from studies on the Agrobacterium-plant interaction and the role of opines in this interaction, proposes to promote growth of the inoculant in the plant environment via the establishment of a bias in the rhizosphere. It is supported by the occurrence of natural biases, such as those generated by opine-like molecules, by calestegins, or by mimosine. Opine-mediated biases have allowed several investigators to favor the growth of opine-degrading bacteria or communities under sterile or axenic environments or in microcosms mimicking near field conditions. Another way to favor a given microbe consists in impeding growth of competing microorganisms. Experiments performed using detergent or bacteriostatic agents as amendments under field or near field conditions yielded promising results. Research perspectives for engineering plant-microbe interactions also include specific engineering of predation and strategies designed to interfere with some of the signals perceived by the microbes, provided these signals control the expression of functions central to microbial fitness. In this respect, quorum-sensing signal molecules, such as N-acyl-homoserine lactones, may be valuable targets for the development of biocontrol agents and procedures.

Additional keyword: biased rhizosphere , rhizopine .

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society