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Oxalate-Degrading Bacteria Can Protect Arabidopsis thaliana and Crop Plants Against Botrytis cinerea

December 2007 , Volume 20 , Number  12
Pages  1,535 - 1,544

Henk-jan Schoonbeek, Anne-Claude Jacquat-Bovet, Fabio Mascher, and Jean-Pierre Métraux

Institute of Plant Biology, Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, Route Albert Gockel 3, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland

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Accepted 14 July 2007.

Botrytis cinerea and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum secrete oxalic acid as a pathogenicity factor with a broad action. Consequently, it should be possible to interfere with the infection process by degrading oxalic acid during the interaction of these pathogens with their hosts. We have evaluated the potential of oxalate-degrading bacteria to protect plants against pathogenic fungi. Such bacteria were isolated from agricultural soil and selected on agar plates with Ca-oxalate as the sole carbon source. Four strains were retained with a medium-to-strong protective activity on Arabidopsis thaliana leaves against B. cinerea and S. sclerotiorum. They can provide 30 to 70% protection against fungal infection in different pathosystems, including B. cinerea on A. thaliana, cucumber, grapevine, and tomato. The oxalate-degrading bacteria induced only some marker genes for common plant signaling pathways for defenses, but protective effects were slightly reduced in A. thaliana mutants impaired in the ethylene and jasmonic acid signaling pathways. More detailed studies on the protective mechanism were performed in ox-strain B, identified as Cupriavidus campinensis, by analysis of transposon-tagged mutants that have a reduced ability to degrade oxalic acid.

Additional keywords:biological control, gray mold.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society