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Ecophysiological Characterization of Rhizosphere Bacterial Communities at Different Root Locations and Plant Developmental Stages of Cucumber Grown on Rockwool

Folman, L.B., Postma, J., Veen, J.A.
Microbial ecology 2001 v.42 no.4 pp. 586-597
Pythium aphanidermatum, alanine, asparagine, bacterial communities, biological control agents, carbon, cucumbers, disaccharides, discriminant analysis, ecophysiology, fucose, glucose, linoleic acid, polysaccharides, principal component analysis, rhizosphere, rhizosphere bacteria, root tips, seedlings, vegetative growth, zoospores
: Bacterial communities from the rhizosphere of cucumber were characterized with respect to growth rates and carbon source utilization, in order to develop a selection strategy for biocontrol agents against Pythium aphanidermatum. Rhizosphere samples were collected from different root regions (root tips, the root base, and the intermediate region where lateral roots emerge) and developmental stages (the seedling, vegetative, and generative stage) from plants cultivated on reused rockwool. By colony counts on 1/10 strength TSA on subsequent days after plating, percentages of fast- and slow-growing isolates (i.e., forming visible colonies within 2 days, or after 3 or more days, respectively) were determined for each rhizosphere sample. At all plant developmental stages, root tips had the highest percentages of fast growing isolates, and root bases the lowest. During plant growth, the relative amounts of slowly growing bacteria increased. Community-level carbon source utilization was determined for the different rhizosphere samples with Biolog GN plates. Principal component analysis showed that rhizosphere samples from different developmental stages and root locations had distinct carbon source utilization patterns. Communities from root tips of seedlings showed the highest utilization of several monosaccharides. Communities from tips and intermediate regions of plants in the vegetative stage utilized relatively many amino acids and several organic acids, and in the generative stage, more di- and polysaccharides were used. Root base samples scored low with respect to carbon source utilization, except for some disaccharides. From the different rhizosphere samples, 826 bacteria, randomly collected from 1/10 strength TSA plates, were screened on the utilization of 9 carbon sources. The 9 selected carbon sources were chosen because they are reported to occur in the rhizosphere, to be used by the zoospores of Pythium in the infection process, or appeared to be discriminant in the analysis of community-level carbon source utilization performed in this study. It appeared that monosaccharides (glucose and fucose), amino acids (alanine and asparagine), and organic acids (galacturonic, succinic, and linoleic acid) were used for growth mainly by bacteria from the root tips, and to a lesser extent from the intermediate region, of young plants. Disaccharides were predominantly utilized by isolates from plants in the vegetative stage. Overall, the results indicated that growth rates and carbon source utilization reflect the adaptation of bacteria to the rhizosphere environment. The possibility of using these characteristics to screen for rhizosphere competent biocontrol agents that compete for substrates with P. aphanidermatum is discussed.