Pseudomonas spp. are one of the most important bacteria inhabiting the rhizosphere of diverse crop plants and have been frequently reported as biological control agents (BCAs). In this work, the diversity and antagonistic potential of Pseudomonas spp. in the rhizosphere of maize cultivars Nitroflint and Nitrodent grown at an organic farm in Brazil was studied by means of culture-dependent and -independent methods, respectively. Sampling of rhizosphere soil took place at three different stages of plant development: 20, 40 and 106 days after sowing. A PCR-DGGE strategy was used to generate specific Pseudomonas spp. fingerprints of 16S rRNA genes amplified from total community rhizosphere DNA. Shifts in the relative abundance of dominant populations (i.e. PCR-DGGE ribotypes) along plant development were detected. A few PCR-DGGE ribotypes were shown to display cultivar-dependent relative abundance. No significant differences in diversity measures of DGGE fingerprints were observed for different maize cultivars and sampling times. The characterisation and assessment of the antagonistic potential of a group of 142 fluorescent Pseudomonas isolated from the rhizosphere of both maize cultivars were carried out. Isolates were phenotypically and genotypically characterised and screened for in vitro antagonism towards three phytopathogenic fungi and the phytopathogenic bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum. Anti-fungal activity was displayed by 13 fluorescent isolates while 40 isolates were antagonistic towards R. solanacearum. High genotypic and phenotypic diversity was estimated for antagonistic fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. PCR-DGGE ribotypes displayed by antagonists matched dominant ribotypes of Pseudomonas DGGE fingerprints, suggesting that antagonists may belong to major Pseudomonas populations in the maize rhizosphere. Antagonists differing in their genotypic and phenotypic characteristics shared the same DGGE electrophoretic mobility, indicating that an enormous genotypic and functional diversity might be hidden behind one single DGGE band. Cloning and sequencing was performed for a DGGE double-band which had no corresponding PCR-DGGE ribotypes among the antagonists. Sequences derived from this band were affiliated to Pseudomonas stutzeri and P. alcaligenes 16S rRNA gene sequences. As used in this study, the combination of culture-dependent and -independent methods has proven to be a powerful tool to relate functional and structural diversity of Pseudomonas spp. in the rhizosphere. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Soil Science